Book Review: After Lament: Psalms for Learning to Trust Again, by Glenn Pemberton

After LamentGlenn Pemberton’s eagerly awaited follow up to Hurting With God (ACU Press, 2012), After Lament honestly and sincerely brings the reader back into Pemberton’s struggles with chronic pain, his acceptance of a life therewith, and what life looks like after lamenting, all through the use of the Psalter. Not holding back his feelings concerning the pat answers of many Christians in the context of pain and suffering, some may find their toes getting a bit crushed by Pemberton’s trampling on what “church language” has become, but it all comes from love and his own experience with hearing the same unhelpful words for years. This is why I highly recommend first reading Hurting With God (my review here), for better understating the language of lament, the necessity thereof, and from what perspective After Lament is written.

The first two chapters reorient the reader into a position of appreciation for lament before moving on, a must for those who have not read Hurting With God, but a nice refresher and life-update on Pemberton for those who have. The last eight chapters deal with Pemberton’s use of Psalms as a way of relating to and moving from lament into any of the following: 1) trust and confidence, 2) thanks, 3) praise, 4) joy, 5) instruction, and 6) broken hope, none of which is a guaranteed since varying journeys have varying outcomes. A discussion guide for each chapter is also including at the end of the book for those who wish to go through the book as a group or more personal introspection.

Lamenting is a journey, not a destination. Life After Lament won’t always be that for which we’ve asked, but we must eventually move out of lament. To this, Pemberton states, “It is easy to serve God and shout hallelujah as long as the payoff is there—a good life, the answer I wanted to my prayer. But what if there is no payoff, just pain? Will you serve the Lord for absolutely no reason other than that the Lord is God?” (197, emphasis original). Along with Pemberton, I’m sure, I pray those who read After Lament will find it helpful in answering him (and God!) in the affirmative.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers as part of their ACU Press Bookclub Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”