What Does it Mean to Lament?

A Lesson from Micah 7
What does it mean to lament?

It means to cry out to God in our hurt and pain, when we doubt and are troubled, all while trusting that He's in control. Typically, lamenting is often messy and always circles back to our faith in God. The Bible contains many prayers by God's people, who are crying out to Him; expressing their grief, sorrow, or despair; and then trusting in the Lord—no matter what their circumstances.

Lamenting is a lost practice in the church today. We may think it's wrong to cry out to God in our hurt, pain, and shame. But it's not. What's wrong is crying out to Him in rebellion, rejection, and denial. Lamenting is a valuable resource for the believer because it helps us cope with suffering, heartbreak, and despair. The focus is no longer on the pain. Instead, the focus is on Christ.

Lamenting is a form of worship. If we begin the practice of lamenting, a few things will happen. We'll gain a greater understanding of our fellow Christians who experience suffering and despair. We can then lovingly encourage them to cry out to God. Lamentation is a valuable tool.

Paul says in Romans 12:15 to "rejoice with those who rejoice."

It's often easy to rejoice when we hear of all the exciting things God is doing in someone's life.

However, it's more difficult—and draining—to obey the directive that follows, "weep with those who weep."

That's not as easy—or as uplifting. However, if we know how to lament and cry out to God in our hurt and despair, trusting in His sovereignty, we can guide those who weep to lament as well. When they lament biblically, they'll experience relief. Not because of us, but because of Christ.

Micah understood what it means to lament.

In Micah 7:1, it says, "Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned: there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig that my soul desires."

In John 15:5-6, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

What happens to the branches that don't bear fruit?

Further in John 15:6, it says, "If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."

Micah saw countless fruitless branches and declared God's judgment. In Micah 7:2-6, we read the causes of their fruitlessness. Every part of their life had fallen into decay: moral, ethical, and spiritual. But Micah didn't lose hope. He cried out, he lamented to God.

Micah cried out, broken over God's people. They looked like a fruitless vineyard, stripped clean of its fruit. Everything good had been replaced with evil. Wickedness filled the land. Neighbors were now strangers; former friends had become foes; siblings turned on each other. And judgment is upon them. In this moment of great despair, in this moment of brokenness, what does Micah say?

In verse 7, we read, "But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me."

We may not understand why God allows us to go through hardships, suffering, and pain. That's why we lament. In our hurt and sorrowful, we must run to Jesus and trust Him. He is the only source of eternal hope.

We can cry out to Jesus because, as it says in Isaiah 53:3, He is "a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief."

True lamentation means running to God rather than away from Him, especially in hard times.

We not only call out to Him because He knows what it's like to suffer. We call out to Him because of the promise in John 16:20, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, your sorrow will turn into joy."

Micah lamented—and he trusted the Lord.

In Micah 7:8, we read, "Rejoice not over me, O my enemy."

Since Micah is not speaking to the Assyrians, the enemy of God's people, it seems the prophet is talking things through to himself, as we all do at times.

In verse 8, he says, "When I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me."

In verse 9, he goes on to say, "I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him ... He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication."

Here, Micah is preaching to his own heart.

Why would he do that?

Like the prophet Jeremiah, Micah knew, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9).

In Micah 7:8, we read, "When I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me."

The prophet knew not only that God's providential hand had brought judgment but also that His providential hand would lift him up again.

We're going to experience suffering in this life. We're going to experience grief, sorrow, and hardships. We're going to have our sins exposed and our idols revealed. We're going to face the Lord's discipline.

And when this happens, Micah says our response should be meek, submissive, gentle, and humble, all contrary to our natural inclination.

In the previous blog, we learned that Micah used courtroom terms. God is our prosecuting attorney and our judge. Today, we see, in verse 9, that He is also our defense counsel. Amazing!

In verse 10 of Micah 7, we see Micah's tone change. Instead of grief and lament, we read, "Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, 'Where is the Lord your God?' My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets."

Only because of Jesus can we, like Micah, turn from devastating sorrow to the assurance that God is in control and will deal with all our enemies. Jesus is our only source of hope. He is our king, our redeemer, our advocate. In Him is joy and hope for the future.

We all deserve to remain in our fallen, sinful state, to be separated from God for all eternity. However, God has other plans for those who come to saving faith in Jesus. When we confess Christ as Savior and Lord, trusting in His work on the cross and in His resurrection, God Himself "picks us up."

Micah lamented over sin. He trusted in the promise of a victorious future for God's people. And he reminded God of His promises. This, of course, was more for the prophet's sake and the sake of God's people.

In Psalm 13:1-2, we read, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?"

We must not remind God of His promises from a position of pride, resentment, or entitlement. Instead, we must desire to see God's promises unfold. Praying the promises of Scripture with holy boldness indicates that we believe He not only hears our cries but also answers them.

In Micah 7:15, we read God's promise.
"As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them marvelous things. The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might; they shall lay their hands on their mouths; their ears shall be deaf; they shall lick the dust like a serpent, like the crawling things of the earth; they shall come trembling out of their strongholds; they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God, and they shall be in fear of you."

When the prophet hears God's response, all Micah can do is praise God. Micah is overwhelmed by the Lord's grace and forgiveness.

Micah overflows with thanksgiving.

In verse 18, we read, "Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old."

Why was Micah so overcome?

No matter how far God's people fall away, He remains faithful. God delights to save sinners!

If we put our faith, hope, and trust in Christ as our Savior and Lord, He heals our broken relationship with Him.

There is none like Him, no other Savior who blots out our sins. There is no other Savior who crushes our enemy, no other Savior who took on flesh for the purpose of dying on the cross, pardoning us from the wrath we all deserve.

In the face of hardship, suffering, pain, sorrow, and grief, who can turn to? Micah said we are to bring our sin before the Lord, to grieve over them and seek His forgiveness. We can trust God to fulfill His promises. We can pray, reminding Him of those promises—which actually reminds us of those promises. And we can rest in His everlasting faithfulness and trustworthiness.