Review of Mark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy : Discovering the Grace of Lament, Wheaton: Crossway, 2019.

            Pastor Vroegop and his wife suffered the stillbirth of their daughter, Sylvia, in 2004. This experience has led him to look more deeply and tellingly at ‘life in a minor key’, and finally to write about learning to lament from Psalms 77, 10, 22 and 13, and the five chapters of the book of Lamentations. Scripture gives Christians permission to lament, which is defined by Vroegop: ‘Lament is the honest cry of a hurting heart wrestling with the paradox of pain and the promise of God’s goodness.’ The message is that ‘To cry is human, but to lament is Christian.’ Lament is found in many parts of Scripture, and it a prayer in pain that leads to trust.

We are to bring our pain and our questions to God, and pray them to Him. Suffering cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to Christians (Rom.8:18), but this does not magically take away pain. Rather, it gives it purpose and provides boundaries. There is turning, complaining, asking and trusting in the whole process of lamenting. The lesson, not easily learned, is put into poetry by William Cowper:

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

We can be thankful that God has given us His counsel regarding our painful laments, and points us to His sympathy and His sovereignty.

 –  Peter  Barnes