Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“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).
Here’s a helpful article on the manifold ways the gospel addresses this current season. It’s also a good example of thinking through how to apply the gospel in whatever life situation we find ourselves in.
Joshua Ryan Butler suggests which character in the Bible best represents us during these COVID-19 times and then draws some comforts we can receive from knowing Jesus is our Great Physician.
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Some of us have lost our jobs or we know people who have. Dr. Jim Stitzinger shares some counsel from his own personal experience to help us through this trial and equip us to encourage others wrestling through this hardship.
This global pandemic has thrown us all for a loop. While we are disoriented and uncertain, this article shows us how we can find our footing and still labor in the Lord.
CityAlight released a new song that encourages us to remember God is infinitely wise, kind, and in control. Even in the midst of this global pandemic, we can rejoice to know God’s good and gracious plans will not be thwarted.
Along similar veins, this song calls us to trust in Jesus Christ. We put our hope and confidence in a king who would die for His people.
If you missed the livestream of the Sovereign Grace Kids sing along, you can still watch and participate in it on Facebook.
Want to get more familiar with Christian theologians of old? In partnership with Bethlehem College & Seminary, TGC has put together a course that introduces you to the lives of Spurgeon, Packer, Newton, Lloyd-Jones, Bonhoeffer, Edwards, and Lewis.
If you need something to do during this time, Ligonier has made all of their study guides available for free.
In this short podcast, John Piper has us dissect our hearts and how technology can be redeemed for spiritual benefit or a pitfall that distracts us from Christ. It’s incredible that this insight was made almost four decades ago, but there’s still relevance today, especially as all of us are reliant upon technology during this quarantine season.
We’re now in the first week of May. Why not make it a goal to pray through the psalms? Here’s a prayer guide put together for that purpose.