The Language of Exile
Lament helps the racial reconciliation conversation and process. It doesn’t solve all the problems, but it can really help. Lament is a prayer in pain that leads to trust. Individually, when we’ve experienced pain, we talk to God in our hearts so that then we can do what God’s called us to do—trust him and one another.
The way that lament helps reconciliation is that it’s both the language of exile and empathy. Lament helps a person who feels other—who, because of the culture, history, or because of their pain, feels like they’re on the outside. Lament can actually be the historic prayer language with which those people are able to talk to God about their internal pain, such that they can not only trust him but also move toward other people they might otherwise be inclined to push away.
The Language of Empathy
On the other hand, it also is the language of empathy. It’s the way that I communicate to other people that I understand, I hear, I see, I acknowledge your pain. When we think about how it helps reconciliation, we can learn to love one another for who we are in Christ and really listen to each other. And then we can lament, learn, and then leverage.
Lament helps move us together instead of moving us apart.
Lament allows us to be able to do something with what we’ve heard without moving into fix-it mode. In that way, lament becomes a language that can help people with different experiences and perspectives and with a lot of pain be able to know what to do together.
In that way, lament helps. It doesn’t solve everything, but it helps move us together instead of moving us apart.
Mark Vroegop is the author of Weep with Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation.
Lament doesn't solve all the problems of racial disharmony. It’s not without risk. But it helps.
Reconciliation—vertical and horizontal—is the goal of the good news. Gospel unity creates racial harmony.
How does the biblical practice of lament offer Christians from different backgrounds a common language for productive, God-honoring conversations about race?
Most Christians are not sure what to do about racial reconciliation. There are some whose hearts are sinfully closed, but I think most Christians simply lack the tools.