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Torn by Pain

Humans need to lament their losses.
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Beautifully, Tragically, Fully Human". See series.


In 1997 Sara McLachlan wrote a song entitled "Dear God." It's a searing complaint against God—raw, brutally honest, and irreverent. As a believer, perhaps I should be offended by these lyrics. However, the amazing thing is that this song is really just a diluted version of the "complaints" already found in the Bible. That's right: God has given us the words—raw and brutally honest—and instructed us and encouraged us to pray anguished, passionate prayers of complaint.

These complaints are called laments, and the Bible is full of them. Actually, nearly every third verse in the Book of Psalms, which has been the private and corporate prayer book for Jews and Christians for thousands of years, is a prayer of lament. Most of them were written by David, a man whom God called "a man after my own heart."

We're looking at the life of David. I call the series "earthy spirituality" because David lived as a very human person—a warm, colorful, daring, passionate, bold sinner-saint. But he was also a man on a quest for God, or rather, a man chosen and pursued by God, who then spent his life responding to God's relentless love. As we study this man, one thing is clear: David knew how to lament.

David's lament

As our story in 2 Samuel begins, David and his soldiers have just returned from a major military victory. After two days of relaxation, a young man arrives in the camp, his clothes torn and his head covered with dust. "I have just escaped from the Israelite camp," he says breathlessly. "The men fled from battle. Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead." Jonathan and David were best friends, bound by a sacred oath to care for one another and their entire families for as long ...

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Matt Woodley is the pastor of compassion ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois.

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Sermon Outline:


I. David’s Lament

II. Laments deal honestly with grief and loss.

III. Laments bring the pain into God’s presence.

IV. Laments invite us into a larger story with a larger God.

V. Laments increase the amount of compassion in our hearts.