Verbum et Ecclesia (Nov 2019)

The importance of lament in pastoral ministry: Biblical basis and some applications

  • June F. Dickie

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 40, no. 1
pp. e1 – e11


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Lament is little understood or practised in most contemporary church communities. However, in today’s world of increasing trauma, this means of grace is much needed. In this article, after providing a biblical basis for lament, focus is given to practical applications of lament in various communities. The studies included refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi living in Cape Town, ‘discipleship groups’ in two townships of Cape Town and an AIDS-support group near Pietermaritzburg. The empirical studies use biblical literature (mainly psalms of lament) either to provide a voice for those who battle to express their pain or to provide a model for sufferers to compose their own laments. Results show that biblical lament can help the individual find healing (social, physiological and spiritual), promote a more socially aware community and help church members gain a better understanding of the nature of the Christian life and the character of God. Consequently, it is highly recommended that those who seek to help trauma-sufferers consider the importance of lament in their ministries. As they then put the theory into practice, those who for so long have felt isolated or misunderstood in the Church will find solace and find healing for their pain. Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study challenges current practices in the Church and provides practical applications of the notion of lament, which over the last 20 years has gained much traction in practical theology and biblical studies. Proven empirical studies show how lament can help individuals and the community to find healing.