Summary: When the bottom drops out, we need to lament before God.

A Time to Lament

(Psalm 79)

1. My high school assignment was to ask a veteran about World War II. Since my father had served in the Philippines during the war, I chose him. After a few basic questions, I very gingerly asked, “Did you ever kill anyone?”

Dad got quiet. Then, in a soft voice, he said, “Probably. I was the cook.”

2. Many military people escape the horrors of war. Others do not. We all know of service persons who have been psychologically damaged from the traumas of war, more recently Afghanistan or Iraq – but all other wars also have their psychological casualities.

3. But there is a difference between warfare among military personnel and massacres of civilians and even attempts at partial or full genocide.

4. Hopefully none of us or our children will ever experience what the Psalmist decscribes.

5. Nonetheless, we will all likely experience times in life in which we lament. Webster defines the verb “lament” as “to mourn aloud, to express sorrow, mourning, or regret--often demonstratively.”

6. When we come across that time to mourn, who do we lament to? We can lament to those close to us, to strangers, or to fellow mourners. But we can also lament to God Himself. Sometimes there is not one else to mourn to!

Main Idea: When the bottom drops out, we need to lament before God.

I. We Don't Lament to EDUCATE God, But to Unburden Ourselves (1-4)


1. Temple defiled

2. Dead bodies strewn out

3. Mocked by neighbors

B. Sadly, there are times to LAMENT

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...”

Emily Dickinson writes “pain – has an Element of Blank” in the sense of pain erasing any memory of any time before the pain and of no future except the pain.

II. Although We GROPE, We Need to Express How We Feel to God (5-7, 10-12)

A. The Psalmist's argument is SENSIBLE

B. Sometimes we are afraid to be HONEST with God

Some believers mistakenly think they must be happy all the time, or find some silver lining in every dark cloud…

We have songs about being positive, putting a smile on your face, or forgetting all your cares.

That might work for the irritations of life, but not for the horrid tragedies that sometimes happen.

C. The PARALLEL to Jeremiah 10:25

Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not, and on the peoples that call not on your name,

for they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitation.

• Sometimes the wrong people get hit!

• Sometimes the same people get hit over and over!

• When the same people get hit over and over, most people blame THEM, as though they asked for it. Or they think they are a jinx or a magnet for problems.

• Sometimes people are foolish and do things that ask for trouble – but often this is not the case.

• George Burns was unfaithful to his wife, smoked cigar after cigar, and live to be 101.

Israel was a bad nation deserving judgment, but Babylon was worse and they were unusually cruel.

D. Not wrong to ask God to take VENGENCE (Romans 12:19-21, Revelation 6)

“Extreme difficulties beget extreme statements.” Leupold

III. Although Our Grief is Outward, We Need to Examine Our HEARTS (8-9)

This is counter-intuitive, but God often speaks to us at our low points.

Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

I am not saying that we are necessarily to blame for the ill things that happen to us, but I am saying we are open to see ourselves more honsetly --- as well as those around us – when the bottom drops out.

A. CONFESSION of our sins and the sins of our group or nation

Read Deut. 32:16-24

Larry Pozza said, In asking the Lord to avenge the blood of his servants, and in finding resonance with Deuteronomy 32, the psalmist is asking the Lord to do what he said he would do. The current enemies of God’s people say, “Where is their God?” But if the Lord were to answer the psalmist’s prayers, the psalmist could envision the Lord saying of the enemies, in the vein of Deuteronomy 32, “Where are their gods?”

B. Request for FORGIVENESS and restoration

I knew a workaholic type pastor once who had a heart attack; the doctor told him to take it easy, but he couldn't break free from his workaholism and left a widow and some barely adult kids behind.

How many smokers have been warned by their doctors? Or people who thrive on junk food?

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