SMALL GROUP MATERIAL
- What stood out to you tonight in the message? Why do you think that was
especially a highlight for you?
- Have you ever said anything to God that was pretty shocking? How do you think God handled that?
- What is easier for you: thanking and praising God or venting your anger or frustration? Why do you think that is?
- Why do you think laments are included in the Bible? What benefit is there for those who love God and those who follow Jesus to have access to these songs?
- [Most likely more appropriate for Grades 10-12] Read Wright’s quote from “What’s the Main Point?” and ask: What do you think about this? Do you agree or not? What has been your experience with lament in worship?
INTRODUCTION – THE PSALMS: Lament
WHAT’S THE MAIN POINT?
“The Psalmists brought the whole of themselves into the whole of what they knew about God. When life was painful, or unbearable, or simply beyond understanding – they threw all that up to God and cried out to him…they brought it all into the presence of God and stood there, or kneeled there, weeping, wondering, waiting.
I think we have lost something in Christian worship because we hardly ever allow ourselves or others to do this. We ignore the Psalms of lament. Instead we try and pretend that everybody is, or should be, happy. We even imply (or actually say) that if you are not happy and joyful in your worship, there is something wrong with you or your faith. We do not encourage or allow people to be honest in worship and truly engage with God in the midst of their struggles. The Psalms do exactly that, and so should we.”
Christopher J.H. Wright, The Old Testament in Seven Sentences
WORD UP: Psalm 13
1-2 Long enough, God—
you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head
long enough. Long enough
I’ve carried this ton of trouble,
lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies
have looked down their noses at me.
3-4 Take a good look at me, God, my God;
I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me
or laugh when I fall on my face.
5-6 I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
I’m so full of answered prayers. (The Message)
Here are a few options to help youth wake up to idea of the devotional you are
WHY DO I CARE?
Let’s be honest – sometimes figuring out the Bible feels like a wrestling match. Following God and being a disciple of Jesus can sometimes feel like riding a roller coaster. Maybe even like having a wrestling match while on a roller coaster! We have experiences that convince us that following Jesus is absolutely worth it. That is, until a good friend betrays us or a family member becomes sick or we don’t feel God’s presence anymore when we pray. Then nothing can convince us that God even exists.
This faith roller coaster of highs and lows and thrills and anxieties isn’t new to those who love God. We will continue to see this cycle as we discover more about the psalms.
Psalms of praise are, not surprisingly, songs of worship in times of joy for the author; when things are good it’s natural to express feelings of thanks, joy and gratitude toward God.
Laments make up 2/3 of the Psalms (!) and in all but one lament Psalm there is a shift at some point from the misery and the pain of the lament to some expression of hope, trust, or the expectation of being delivered and then renewed praise. For the psalm writers, praise could happen even in the darkest moments – in fact, especially in those darkest moments.
Q, Does anyone know what the word “lament” means?
Grieving, crying, weeping and mourning are all words that can be used alongside the word lament. Basically, these are very sad, very specific songs in times of need. When things are hard and unfair and it feels like God isn’t anywhere to be found, we lament. We cry, we mourn, we get ticked off and we wail at God.
WHAT DO I DO?
- Listen to Rachel Wilhelm’s Psalm 13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVToKxK3NFA (If you didn’t read Psalm 13 together, this is a great time to do that. Or you can reread it to refresh your group’s memory if that is helpful)
- Lament psalms have a typical structure. It goes like this:
God, I’m suffering pretty badly here.
God, everybody is against me, or laughing at me. It’s horrible and it isn’t fair.
God, you aren’t doing anything to help right now, and I desperately need you to.
How long will this go on, please? Must I wait forever?
But God, I still trust you and will go on praising you, no matter what.
Take time to sit quietly and reflect on a time in your life when you were experiencing some type of deep pain or protest. Let yourself try to remember the feelings that were associated with that time in your life. What were the cries of your heart? What were your questions about where God was at that time? As an expression of prayer, write your own lament about that time or that experience of pain or loss.
- Bring yourself before Jesus and commit to reading, studying, meditating (thinking about it) and then applying the Psalms over the next two weeks
Rachel Wilhelm “Songs of Lament” on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/6xef4BKdgFQcIcAPByYT4k
- Verses to cross-reference:
- Psalm 119 (delighting in the law of the Lord(
- Galatians 5:22-3 (fruit of the Spirit)
- Deuteronomy 30:11-19 (I set before you, life or death…choose life!)
- Calm Psalms – Fleeting.mp4
Ideas for Corporate Worship time…
- Calm Psalms – Fleeting
- Worship Songs – Psalm 40 (Lament), Goodness of God