When you're in the midst of suffering, you want answers for the unanswerable, resolutions to the unresolvable. You want to tie up pain in a pretty little package and hide it under the bed, taking it out only when you feel strong enough to face it. But grief won't be contained. Grief disobeys. Grief explodes. In one breath, you may be able to say that God's got this and all will be well. In the next, you might descend into fatalism. No pretending. Here, you are raw before God, an open wound.
There is a pathway through this suffering. It's not easy, but God will use it to lead you toward healing. This path is called lament. Lament leads us between the Already and the Not Yet. Lament minds the gap between current hopelessness and coming hope. Lament anticipates new creation but also acknowledges the painful reality of now. Lament recognizes the existence of evil and suffering--without any sugarcoating--while simultaneously declaring that suffering will not have the final say.
In the midst of your darkest times, you will discover that lament leads you back to a place of hope--not because lamenting does anything magical, but because God sings a louder song than suffering ever could, a song of renewal and restoration.
Aubrey Sampson is the author of The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament (NavPress/Tyndale, 2015) and Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul (Zondervan, 2015). She and her husband and three sons are church planters in the Chicago area, where Aubrey serves on the preaching team and leads discipleship and equipping. As a writer and speaker, Aubrey offers incredible perspective in the midst of trying experiences. She is also a regular contributor to Propel Women and is earning her masters degree in evangelism and leadership. Find and follow Aubrey @aubsamp and www.aubreysampson.com.
I (very gratefully) received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
When I pick up a book like this I want it to do two things: 1) be authentic and vulnerable in its storytelling; and 2) give me solid and well-researched theology. The Louder Song does both of these things so beautifully. It explores the concept of lament through personal stories and Biblical models. Aubrey is candid about her own pain and journey into lament, and though she absolutely points to hope and restoration, she does not give easy answers or clichés, and she doesn’t sugarcoat very real and lasting hurt.
If you’re in a place of pain or grief or waiting, or if you’re walking with someone in that place, I highly recommend this beautiful book.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC copy of this book which is all about “Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament.” Aubrey endears herself to the reader with her raw honesty about her own pain. She dives into what grief does to us physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally. This book isn’t about providing a cheery, cliched outlook to balance the scales of grief into something positive. It’s all about the work of facing the chronic, devastating and open-ended pain that we encounter in this life - those lands between the already and not yet.
After a difficult year and delving into the concept of lament in a much more personal way, the timing of reading this book was perfect for me. Putting into words so many things I struggled with and learned for the first time this year in a hands-on way. This guidebook on lament not only teaches about lament but creates space to say, it’s okay to have big emotions, lack answers and to feel disconnected from God but still know that he is there.
I would recommend this read to anyone, but especially those who find themselves in seasons of feeling abandoned by God, suffering, loss or pain.
“Our hope in suffering us never found by striving to see the positive or looking on the bright side. Hope for the Christian is always about the object of our hope, the one all laments long for and lead to, the embodiment and answer of all laments: Jesus.” - Aubrey Sampson
Written by real people with genuine feelings–often worn closer to the surface than this stoic New Englander might like–the Bible gives voice to a full range of emotions. There is plenty of joy, lots of celebration, and this has found its way into our worship. However, we are less comfortable with the practice of biblical lament:
David wails his abandonment and anguish of soul; Jeremiah mourns the demise of true righteousness and the fall of his nation; Hannah’s weeping is so out of control that she attracts the attention of the priest who assumes she is intoxicated. When believers hurl their complaints God-ward, he responds with compassion. Aubrey Sampson finds in God’s great love evidence that he “doesn’t avoid or ignore pain. He sings a louder song over it. And he invites his hurting people to sing with him.” (11) She describes her own journey of lament, and loss in The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament.
Suffering as an Invitation The death of a beloved cousin, the ongoing physical challenges of her youngest son, and then, as if to add weakness to the overwhelm, the symptoms of a mysterious illness hang on and intensify, leaving Audrey in continual pain. A counselor challenged her and her husband to lean into the invitation suffering offers, to stop trying to “handle it,” fix it, understand it, or explain it away and, in the presence of the deep loss, to allow, “the unanswerable to remain unanswered while still declaring that suffering will not have the final say.” (11)
The Louder Song is a place where life in the trenches of mothering and ministry meets solid biblical scholarship. A peaceful heart in the face of suffering honors the sovereignty of God while putting his compassionate nature on display. “He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103)
Aubrey accepted God’s invitation and began scribbling the howl of her questions into an ekah journal, a landing place based in the Hebrew word for “how” that echoed the psalmists’ blunt questions: “God, how could you allow this?” Instead of running from her sorrow, she began where she was–with complaint. Like David and Jeremiah and so many other sad singers of the Bible, she found that, while her misery did not dissipate, her complaint mysteriously morphed into praise. Even in dark times in which she found it impossible to be thankful for her circumstances, Aubrey was able to rest in the character of God and to trust his motives.
Go Ahead. Lament. Romans 5 beats a direct path from suffering to hope, and it travels the route of the testing of our faith. James shares the same map, promising maturity at the end of the road, but this acceptance of God’s invitation to lament is an acknowledgement that God may take us through suffering rather than delivering us from it. Aubrey has been tutored into taking a long view of biblical promises of deliverance:
” So lament your social-media obsessions. Lament your days on the couch. Lament your former glories and all of those what-ifs. God wants them all. He wants every burden, every broken path, every looking back. But then, return your gaze to Jesus.” (103)
This fixed and unflinching gaze to the Savior defines the difference between lament and despair. With no where to look, despair comes (literally) “down from hope” (154), sits down, closes its eyes, and gives up. Lament looks squarely at the evil in the world, at the unchosen, undeserved, unwanted, and unfair and then looks for the God who is nearby and listening. A howl from the heart implies the awareness of a Listener, and lament may be your first stop on the pathway back toward hope.
Many thanks to NavPress for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
"I've stayed so focused on my what-might-have-beens, I've neglected to see how God is blessing me now--in and even through this pain...This is how I'll finally arrive at that elusive place called acceptance--by watching for, noting, gathering instances of hope and joy in one hand, even while wrestling with my darkest hours in the others."
This book spoke to me so much and I know it will to you too. Aubrey is brave and vulnerable enough to share some of the deepest pain from her own life and how God has ministered to her through those times. As she shares her own laments and those of others, you will feel seen and heard, as if you're sitting down with a close friend who gets what it means to wrestle with God and still say, as she does, "My situation is hard AND God has been good to me." I've already ordered copies of "The Louder Song" to share with friends because I know God will use it in their lives as he has in mine.
This is a book to read in the valleys, when something in your life “changes the game,” when getting out of bed is a triumph in itself.
The Louder Song is an invitation to feel, to move beyond the pretending things are okay, and to finally be honest with the Lord. Aubrey, thank you for this invitation, thank you for helping me okay with the emotions, and for helping me see the “yet”.
“All laments lead to the truest form of worship- the worship of God alone. Not of God and blessings, not God and benefits, but God for God’s sake. No matter what happens. No matter how violently the storm rages. No matter God’s apparent absence. Lament keeps on. Lament utters a profound yet: ‘This is horrible. Yet I will praise my God, for he alone is worthy.’” #theloudersong
I was so glad to receive an ARC of this beautiful book. Having recently walked through a season of loss, grief, and deep pain, I was particularly moved by Aubrey’s stories, wise words, and gentle direction on the Spiritual Discipline of lament. In her words, “When the only thing you can sense is God’s absence, lament is the rope that will keep you tethered to his presence. Lament helps you hold on to God because it’s an honest form of worship and communication with him.”
We all have much to benefit from in reading this book. Whether we’ve experienced pain or grief ourselves, or desire to understand and support a friend or relative walking through a difficult season, this book so tenderly leads us into a place where hope and healing abound.
There are too many books out there that speak of pain and suffering as cliches, failing to offer true and present help for those in the midst of it. The Louder Song is not that kind of book. Aubrey is a storyteller, who grounds the narrative of her life in thoughtfully wrestled Biblical truth, Christian theology, and an impressively well-read canon of Christian writings. Refusing to either deny or wallow in pain, Aubrey points us to lament, God's provision for grief, and looks towards the Louder Song.
This book opens with the powerful description of a concert in a dark, small theater. Choir members dressed in black begin with a slow, ancient funeral dirge while images of poverty and pain show on a screen. But then a second choir quietly surrounds the audience and begins to sing over them a U2 refrain, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." This second choir gets louder and more intense and moves on to other songs, including one that states, "I believe in the Kingdom Come . . . you broke the bonds and you loosed the chains, carried the cross of my shame . . ." In the midst of all of this music, Aubrey begins to process her layers of pain and loss, including the recent onset of a painful, chronic, lifelong disease. She writes,"I've walked with Jesus for so long. We've been through much together. We've overcome together. But now I feel utterly and completely abandoned. I don't know if he will ever calm this storm. I don't know if I will ever find a peace that passes all understanding. Where is God in this? What's he doing?" This book chronicles Aubrey's journey to accept pain and suffering as an invitation--to embrace it and learn from it, to let it do its good work in her soul. To lament. And to invite God into the process. She writes, "All laments lead to the truest form of worship--the worship of God alone. Not God and blessings, not God and benefits, but God for God's sake. No matter what happens." This thoughtful, honest book should help many who grieve to hang on through the dark days and even begin to hear a louder song, the song of love Jesus sings over them.
If I say the word lament, many persons today may raise their eyebrows and wonder what book I am reading from another era. The word lament is not a common one in our modern vocabulary, but perhaps it should be.
Aubrey Sampson introduces the reader to a greater understanding of lament in her latest book, The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament that will be released on February 5. Page by page Aubrey shares her own journey with lament and how it serves help to us as we grieve whether that loss is a death or a change in our health or any other challenge we would not have chosen for ourselves.
Aubrey grapples vulnerably with her own lament while opening our understanding to its value and gift to us in the midst of our own suffering and loss.
I have to admit, when I first saw this book, I thought, “Oh, no! Not another book on suffering.” But I was pleasantly surprised and even fascinated by this book. It is a book on laments and how we can find hope in the midst of our laments.
I didn't realize that there were so many laments in Scripture and that we can cry out our own laments to God—why God? How long, God? etc. Often laments in Scripture end with a song of hope and faith in God and we can find ourselves doing the same—resolving to trust God in spite of everything. There are several kinds of laments in Scripture and near the end of the book, the author turns us towards laments for others and for our nation and what we can do about it.
The author suffers a chronic and debilitating illness as well as personal tragedies in her family. She not only knows how to lament but how to encourage us to and to hear God's voice speaking to us through the lamenting period. She uses a lot of examples from her own life and I found this to be a very interesting book.
In the appendices, she has a section on how to give (or not) advice to others, verses to cling to in times of pain, and a study guide to your own lament journey. This is a great book for those dealing with physical or emotional pain in their own lives or with others close to them. In this world, we are going to endure suffering, so this book is for everyone. It is okay to lament and cry out to God, in fact, we are encouraged to do so!
(Please Note: While this book was given to me to review by Tyndale House Publishing, the opinions expressed are my own.)
So much wisdom in this book, whether you are the person suffering through unspeakable grief and pain or the walking with someone else in that season. After receiving an advanced copy of the book, I read it quickly with a number of friends in mind who are suffering through the toughest things in life. But then Aubrey's words spoke to me with the language of lament for losses I still carry. Hers is a hopeful message.
In the spirit of Kate Bowler's Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I've Believed and Soong-Chan Rah's Prophetic Lament, Aubrey Sampson understands that things aren't always resolved quickly or easily and God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we expect or want. Aubrey helps those of us who can't shake chronic pain, illness, infertility, disappointment etc. to find comfort and companionship in Christ. Excellent book. Devoid of pat answers or shame.
If you’re like me, you never lingered too much on the parts of Scripture that focus on suffering. We all want to rush on to the good stuff, the victory. But then when we find ourselves in the midst of suffering (of our own or others) we fumble through the words to express the pain without dismissing the reality of it. We need someone to tell us God can handle our doubts, that not rushing on is okay, and that yes—hope will come, but not without walking through the place we find ourselves first.
Aubrey Sampson gracefully weaves stories from her own life and others with Scriptural basis for the prayer form of lament, helping us find our way through suffering to restoration.
One aspect of the book I loved and needed to hear was the focus on lamenting with others. We can do so much damage when we see others in pain and do not know how to walk with them through it. Sampson gives us tools to come alongside others in a way that will ultimately allow God’s healing for us all.
**I received an advance copy from the publisher for an honest reveiw**
This book surrounds a topic that largely makes us (American Christians) uncomfortable.
Sampson does a great job of inviting others to share laments out of hardship, addressing suffering and tragedy through the lens of Scripture, and teaching us how to give hope (to others and ourselves) without being trite.
Favorite concepts: 1) Leaders often don't have (make?) space for lament. They are used to being in control. Lament appears to be for the weak. They need to look strong. (This is one I've given a lot of thought to.) 2) Lament is so much about compassion, love, and community. She gives examples of how she's invited her community into lament, and expressed lament to others over events that have happened around the world. This gave me good language for understanding how I process tragedies I have no personal connection to, like 9/11 or school shootings or wars halfway around the world. 3) We can (and need to) make space for lament rather than glossing over suffering. We need to analyze our definition of suffering (Hint: it's not the same as Christian persecution). This got me thinking about some of the differences between lament and grief.
Well done. And the audio version was read by the author, which I think makes a difference when covering an important topic like this (example: she got teary at points, and it felt authentic).
This book is exactly what I needed to read right now. The author’s honesty is refreshing and so relatable - and the hope she gives is real and truly uplifting. SO good! I’m reading a library copy but want to buy my own now so I can reread it and highlight all my favorite sections. Also looking forward to doing the study section in the back.
I highly recommend this book, especially to all Christ followers. It is eye opening and comforting. Part of the human experience is grief, suffering, sadness, disappointment, etc. and sometimes we don’t know how to reconcile all that with the good God we love and serve. Sampson teaches us about “lament”, possibly a forgotten word in our vocabularies.
Through Sampson’s own experiences and what Jesus has taught her, she can speak into our lives with raw emotion and honesty. She gently shares what she has learned so that we too may find hope and joy not just at the end of our journey but along our crazy path as well. She validates our questions and our fears. She gives us permission to cry, to complain, to be mad at God--to lament. God is not afraid of lament so we should not be either. There are more lament prayers than praise prayers in the Bible. “Lament, above all, is a dialogue between us and God, and he has given us a beautiful picture of what that looks like throughout Scripture.”
As one may express grief in various ways, lament also emerges “through a variety of mediums and expressions”. Sampson goes into more detail about four types of lament. She helps us handle our pain, anger, disbelief, fear, disappointment, and sadness, by guiding us in our thoughts and prayers. “Lament is the art of trusting God no matter what he gives, no matter what he takes.”
After you read this book for yourself, I suggest buying it as a gift for those in your life who are struggling or questioning or need help navigating grief, suffering, or disappointment. The last 30 pages of the book is a chapter by chapter study guide that you can use on your own for reflection and journaling or use it with others in a small group.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.
From the very first words of this book I knew it would be a good one... definitely not an easy one but a necessary one... one that would help bring beauty out of brokenness. One that says, you know those ugly feelings you have? Those questions you wrestle with? All that stuff should be laid at the foot of the cross. Bring it to Jesus. He wants the good the bad and the ugly... he wants all of us! Ms. Sampson clearly, with grace and compassion, lays out what lament is, how it can be done, why it should be done, both for ourselves and for those around us. Through tons of Biblical examples as well as examples from her friends and family and herself, Ms. Sampson explains lament. She bases everything in the Word and through other's examples paints a picture for the reader of how lament can look in their lives with their circumstances. But it doesn't just stop with lament lament lament... it ends with hope! Ms. Sampson encourages the reader that through lament one can move to hope through Christ and eventually God will change their outlook from an inward focus to an outward focus. I loved the words How, Yet and With. We ask "HOW" questions. BUT (yet) then God! And finally WITH Him we can... I loved the progress wrapped up in these small words. Examples of how this works can be clearly seen throughout scripture! When I don't know how to lament I can look to scripture for example. One thing that bothered me was some of the hard words she used. I don't think we should demand anything of God. I think we have to be careful how we approach God. Other than that though I loved this book and give it 5 stars. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was in no way required to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
We all go through periods of suffering, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological. In The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament, author Aubrey Sampson addresses the various forms of grief through her own personal pain and stories of others.
The message that spoke to me was about ignoring our pain by covering it with distractions to deflect attention from our suffering. Many rush past the examples of lament in the Bible, preferring the times of joy. Yet, the lament is the times that bring us nearer to God... trusting Him more as we go through the valley of despair and shadows. These songs and prayers of lament and sorrow are outpourings to God that then allow Him to give us HOPE as He guides us through them. Sampson's journaling that expresses her own pain and grief has led her to a deeper trust in God.
Her vulnerability and authenticity remind me that it's easy to withdraw into myself as I deal with grief, pain, and anxiety. The verses she lists toward the back of the book, along with the Study Guide, are very useful tools for focusing on renewal and restoration in spite of everything and that God's song to us is, indeed, louder when we listen to Him.
I received this book as part of the Tyndale Blog Network at no cost to myself in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.
Aubrey Sampson teaches that it’s not only ok to experience times of lament, she invites us to see lament as a sacred practice. As a way of experiencing our connectedness to one another during times of grief and loss. She shows how acknowledging and honoring the practice of lament can play a significant role in our journey toward healing. She offers ways to lament well, and suggests that it is a way of loving ourselves and others who are dealing with grief. Not to eliminate the pain, but to be truly present for one another as we go through it.
Sampson writes, “In a world full of hate, abuse and game change, God doesn’t avoid or ignore pain. He sings a louder song over it. And he invites his hurting people to sing with him.”
Experiencing grief and loss can be incredibly isolating. The Louder Song reminds us that we are not alone in our suffering and that if we allow God to walk with us as we lament, we can experience the hope and healing that only he can provide.
Book #4 of 2019. I now agree with the author 100% when she wrote, “In my youthful naivete’ I believed that hardships were supposed to be the exception to life, not the rule. But suffering is not an exception, after all. It’s not a surprise. It’s not an interruption to an otherwise easy life. The older I get, the more I realize that no person is untouched by some level of pain and heartache, big or small.” I believe we, the global church, have a skewed idea of what it means to “Rejoice in the Lord always“. And because of it, we are uncomfortable with pain and grief – our own and that of other people. Laments are an overlooked form of prayer and worship. In studying the laments of the Bible (Job, David, Jeremiah and more), we learn that laments bridge the gap between “current hopelessness and coming hope”. There’s hope because “we don’t lament to a void. We lament to the God who wants our laments.”
4.5 stars — it’s been a while since I’ve read a book on grief. The Louder Song was refreshing for me to pick up right around the one-year anniversary of tragic loss. It’s always a comfort when the author can put honest words to your pain to make you feel so understood.
This book is not only a comfort, but a resource and tool for learning the process of lamenting in grief. Aubrey Sampson gives examples of laments, shares personal struggles and stories of friends who have grieved deeply. There are questions to answer in the back of the book along with scripture verses that may be helpful.
“Lament helps us to listen for God’s louder song and to believe that one day, we will hear it above the noise of our pain.”
I rarely find a book that my soul connects with or that I find healing from outside of the Bible. This book, if you have chronic pain or love someone who does, is both a call to action and gentle reassurance that we are not alone but that it's okay to grieve what you're going through and to bring ALL of that to the Lord.
As I was reading it, I felt like she knew exactly what I deal with and that how I was feeling was not only normal but expected and accepted. It's going to be a resource I'm keeping close at hand and will offer to my friends as well.
The Louder Song meets readers in the pain and ache of life. It answers the question of what to do when you're in a period of Suffering and Not Yet. No cliches or easy answers here. Instead, author Aubrey Sampson leads readers to learn the concept of lament--the rope that keeps us tethered to God's presence. Throughout the book, Sampson weaves stories of her own sufferings with an examination of lament songs in Scripture. She reminds us that it's OK to be honest with God and that it's that authenticity that opens our hearts to an awareness of God's presence in the midst of our pain and grief.
A good book because it awakens the reader to the need to lament, rather than just pushing through the pain to “happiness”. The first half of the book lays the foundation for why lament is necessary, good, and helpful. But when the author got to the second half of the book, it sang.
“Listen for his voice, saying to you now, “Be strong and courageous, for I go with you - backward and forward, I will be there....I’m listening to your cries. I’m moving on your behalf. I’m here in this wilderness...”
This book was beautiful. It’s hard to find another word for it, which is a bit odd because it’s a book about the lament of grief. But the honesty, the willingness to question in the midst of grief, the boldness to be real with yourself and with God, it was just beautifully done.
Lament is something that I believe has been forgotten, and yet the more I learn about it the more vital it seems to the healing process. I love how the author not only teaches you how to walk through lament, but also gives hope that it’s a season that won’t last forever. Very well done.
A unique book that makes the theology of lament accessible. I think this book would be great for anyone struggling, especially those new to Christianity or more distant from Jesus than they used to be. The opening illustration of God singing a louder song over our pain is beautiful and very powerful. I really hope this encourages the church to embrace lament more and to explore how to communicate with and know God in the darkness of suffering.