The Psalmist, and Our Suffering Saviour


Preaching the Lament

I recently preached on Psalm 13… again. Such a great passage of Scripture! I found a completely new angle from which to approach it, and it was every bit as rich and rewarding as the first.


I previously preached on it under the heading, “How to pray, when life’s not ok“. It was sorely tempting to preach that message again, because it has a lot of information in it about the Psalm, about lament psalms in general, and some wonderful insights into the Difference Jesus Makes.

But this time was different. As I prepared, I felt that what God would have His church receive was not a lesson about lament, but an actual lamenting experience.This is challenging…

Here is the preaching job:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
    and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
    my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

– Psalm 13

It is challenging because as soon as one invokes an emotional response in the room, one runs the risk of hurting people. Speaking boldly about a distressing topic might edify some, but hurt others. It is much easier to deal with difficult subjects in a small group, where you can control the dynamics. How could I take people into the Psalmist’s frame of mind without causing serious emotional damage?

Then it struck me: tell a story. I have lots of amazing conversations, and there was one that really fit very nicely. So I preached the story of that conversation. That way I was not talking at my audience. I was sharing a story about a conversation which had taken place elsewhere. Those who need to related intimately to it can do so, while others can simply enjoy the story, or the lessons that arise from it.

Anyway, here is the result. May it bless you:

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