Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament” by Mark Vroegop
Recommendation by Pastor Eric Cai
“Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy” is a book that I purchased last year when I decided to take our high schoolers through the book of Psalms. I wanted to touch on an aspect of the Psalms, and the Christian life, that had been largely neglected—the aspect of lament. Little did I know that this neglected aspect of the Christian life would come to the forefront of our lives, roughly half a year later when the coronavirus became a pandemic.
What do you do when your life plays out in the minor-key, when the mood of your life shifts from fullness, celebration, and joyful abundance to trial, sorrow, loss and pain? What do you do when you know that God is good, but life is also hard? Pastor Mark Vroegop believes that the faithful response is biblical lament. Biblical lament is “how we bring our sorrow to God, how [we] live between the poles of a hard life and trusting in God’s sovereignty (21).”
Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy is immensely practical (if you don’t believe me, there are ‘Learning-to-Lament’ worksheets found in the appendix). Each chapter concludes with reflection questions. More importantly, it shows us how there is mercy and grace to be found when we bring our complaints, sorrows, and laments before the living God. And if you or your family aren’t going through difficulty or suffering yourself, this book equips you on how to faithfully weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. Pastor Mark believes that this minor-key song is vital to the life of God’s people and his book offers a guide on how to faithfully lament during a time such as ours. Perhaps through this book’s eye toward Scripture, we can learn the apostolic example of being “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10).
There are many helpful applications strewn throughout the book, but let me offer you a few quotes to motivate you to see why his book is necessary for our church and for your relationship with God:
- “Without lament we won’t know how to help people walking through sorrows. Instead, we’ll offer trite solutions, unhelpful comments, or impatient responses. What’s more, without this sacred song of sorrow, we’ll miss the lessons historic laments are intended to teach us.” (21).
- “A third of the official songbook of Israel wrestles with pain,” (30).
- “Choosing to trust through lament requires that we rejoice without knowing how all the dots connect. We decide to let God be his own interpreter, trusting that somehow his gracious plan is being worked out—even if we can’t see it,” (79).
- “[Lament] is the prayer language that stakes its claim on the promises of God in the pains of life. Dark clouds may come, but divine mercy never ends,” (191).
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