Want Emotional Healing? Don't Skip Lament

Dieula Previlon

by Dieula Previlon


If I were to poll a general Christian audience asking if it was biblical to be upset, angry, or even accuse God of wrongdoing, I would receive responses that are all across the board. Some would say it’s a sin to be angry with God and quote verses that suggest to “fear the Lord.” Others might respond with a word of caution to be careful of the kind of anger one has toward God and remind us to focus on revering and respecting the Lord. Others would be confused and unsure how to respond because they grew up hearing that it was unbiblical to be angry with God or to question God even though life has taught them that there are certain situations that warrant an angry response.

Getting Real with God and Pain

I say the Bible has a plethora of examples of real human emotions being allowed when pain and suffering occur. The book of Ruth, for example, shares a narrative of real, painful events occurring in the lives of Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah. These painful events caused Naomi to express anger, sadness, and discontent with how God had dealt with her.

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” –Ruth 1:20-21, NIV

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Naomi accused God of bringing misfortune upon her. When we go deeper into Naomi’s story, we can see that her anger was a proper emotional response for what happened to her.

Naomi’s words of anger were words of lament. Soong Chan Rah, the author of Prophetic Lament, says, “Lament is honesty before God and each other. Lament recognizes the struggles of life and cries out for justice against existing injustices. Lament will not allow us to revert to easy answers. There are no easy answers to unabated suffering.”

There’s room for lament in our practical theology. There’s room for honesty to God and each other. When pain and suffering occur, there’s no room for false pretenses. There’s only room to cry out and say, “I’m in pain. Help! Do something about this pain.” Lament is a cry for help, a cry for relief, a cry for the suffering to end.

The God Who Can Hold it All

When lament is directed toward God, it is a posture of intimacy, acknowledging our human frailty and our desperate need for God. As we cry out to God, we invite him into the brokenness, trusting that he hears our cries and understands our pain. In the act of lamenting, we find solace in the belief that God is a compassionate listener, ready to bear the weight of our burdens.

My brother passed away without warning right before Christmas in 2019. I became numb, and when I wasn’t numb, I was angry. I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t prevent the death of my brother right before the holidays. I sat in this angry and bewildered posture for weeks, and then months. In hindsight, I needed that season to move me into a different relational category with God. I knew God was near, and I felt safe to lament before him.

In my moments of profound pain and suffering, turning to God in lament became a path toward healing. Pouring my heart out in honest, raw prayer was an act of vulnerability that fostered a deep connection between me and God. It was a kind of vulnerability that I dared not share with others because there aren’t too many people who can handle that kind of naked honesty.

Lament is Part of the Path to Healing

Lament is a sacred discipline, an integral part of the healing journey. In the sacred space of lament, we discover that God doesn’t shy away from our pain but embraces us in our desolation. Psalm 34:18 says that God is close to the brokenhearted. When there’s pain and suffering and we’re lamenting, God is close.

So, no, it’s not a sin to express anger, to be upset with God, or even to accuse him of wrongdoing. Lament is not a sign of faithlessness; rather, it’s an authentic expression of our struggles before a compassionate and understanding Creator. As we pour out our hearts to God, we embark on a sacred journey where the act of lament becomes a bridge between our brokenness and the healing touch of divine grace.

It’s an intimate and sacred act. It’s through this authentic dialogue that our faith deepens and we begin to perceive the subtle movements of grace that lead us toward healing. As we lament, we align our hearts with God’s mercy, finding strength in the assurance that, even in the darkest moments, his light is guiding us toward restoration.



Dieula Magalie Previlon is a counselor, ordained minister, and the  founder of ElevateHer International Ministries with a vision to empower women to heal from trauma and thrive. Born in Haitu, her career and ministry today exist because of her parent’s many years of hardship and sacrifice in the immigration process to the United States. Her most recent book is  Does God See Me? Learn more at dieulaprevilon.com.