Wineskins Archive

December 5, 2013

Book Review: Hurting With God (Oct 2012)

Filed under: — @ 3:24 am and

By Sandy Brown Lowe

Since our seven-year-old grandson died of leukemia in January, I have developed a number of tricks and techniques to keep myself from breaking down in tears during Sunday morning worship. Because if I cry, we all know what happens. I have to leave.

And why is that exactly? What is unacceptable about sitting in a Sunday morning time of worship and weeping? According to Glenn Pemberton’s book Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms, the problem is that we have lost the language of lament. Since 40% of the Psalms qualify as lament, it seems an important language to relearn.

Pemberton uses the book of Psalms to show us the need for recovering the ability to cry out to God when we are feeling lost and abandoned. These expressions do not show a lack of faith. Instead they result from faith that trusts a sovereign God to rule over both the joy and the pain in our lives.

The title of the book comes from an essay written by a student in one of Pemberton’s university classes. The student said that from studying Psalms he learned, in the face of his own pain, “that if I was honest with God, sometimes angry with him, then I could truly talk and pray to God more earnestly. This class has taught me how to hurt with God rather than without him.”

In addition to examples of people of faith who lamented in the Old and New Testaments, Pemberton covers our expectations of God, the role of thanksgiving in lament and to whom lament Psalms might be most helpful today. Practical suggestions for thoughtfully incorporating lament into our public worship are also included.

Pemberton contends that for those in pain, the most difficult place to go is church. He knows that from hard experience and so do I. This is a book that can help us regain the wholeness of expression to our God and include the hurting more fully in our worship.

You can order this book at

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