Oh, that Holy Lament, Courtesy of Aubrey Sampson

Oh, that Holy Lament, Courtesy of Aubrey Sampson February 19, 2019

It’s Tuesday and you know what that means – I’ve got another author to feature here on my Patheos blog. Aubrey Sampson recently released The Louder Song, which is a book about a topic some of us tend to avoid but all of us need to embrace: lament. I write about lament in my book, and am so glad to see others are writing about it too. Check out the interview with her and leave a comment at the end to win a copy of her book! 

Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? Lately I’ve been trying notto answer this question by saying what I do, but by saying who I am. And yet so much of what I do is vocational, so it’s difficult at times to separate the two. In general, I am a mom of three sons (ages 12, 9, and 7), a church planter alongside my husband Kevin. Our church is Renewal Church in the Chicagoland area, where I oversee discipleship and equipping, and serve on the preaching team. I am also an author, a graduate student in Evangelism and Leadership at Wheaton College, and I write for Propel women. I love movies, music, and I’m kind of a Disney-park aficionado (aka: nerd).

Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? The Louder Song is about finding God’s presence in those seasons when all you can feel is his absence. It’s a book about the spiritual discipline and biblical language of lament.

In the midst of suffering, we tend to want answers for the unanswerable and resolutions to the unresolvable. But pain is a chasm of the unknown. In one breath, we might be able to say with confidence that God’s got this. In the next, we might descend into disbelief and despair, where we’re raw before God, an open wound.

The Louder Song is about how lament minds the gap between current hopelessness and coming hope. It anticipates new creation but 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.

Ultimately, The Louder Song is a lament journey because I believe lament is the rope that keeps us tethered to God’s presence when all we can feel is his absence.

Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? In 2015, just after planting our church, my husband Kevin and I entered one of the most difficult seasons we’ve ever been through. I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease. We lost someone very close to us, tragically and mysteriously. And our youngest son was recovering from spinal cord surgery and ongoing care.

I wanted to tell readers that during this difficult season, I rose above, overcame, more-than-conquered. But truthfully, my faith in God wavered. My go-to spiritual disciplines no longer helped me feel connected to Jesus. My gnawing questions about suffering and God’s goodness became too much to handle. For the first time in my thirty years as a Christian, I wondered if I was praying to the ceiling fan.

In the middle of this difficult season, God gently led me to a concert (something I write about in the first chapter, so I won’t share the entire story here). But the director of the concert, did not allow suffering to be ignored, but simultaneously declared that suffering will not have the final say. That was my first exposure to the art of lament. Since then, the biblical lamenters became the very vehicle God used to move my heavy heart back to a place of hope. In my darkest hours, lament helped me sing a louder song than suffering ever could—because I could hear God’s louder song over the noise of my pain, and the world’s pain.

God never met me with answers, but in time, met me with himself. This book is that journey. This project is also a look at the theology of lament, the various expressions of lament, the church’s role in lament, practical ways to lament, my personal and communal lament story, along with a lament study-guide for readers or groups.

How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? I wrote this book to honor anyone who has suffered—in big or small ways—or for anyone walking with someone else through suffering, my prayer is that The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament lets you know that you aren’t alone.

And whether you are dealing with grief, spiritual doubt, chronic pain, or a difficult season of life, there is a pathway through this suffering: lament. My hope is that in the midst of darkest times, readers will be led back to a place of hope—because God sings a song of renewal and restoration within our pain.

He sings a louder song than suffering ever could.

I’ll add one more thing here- I want this book to move us outside of ourselves. We have brothers and sisters all around our neighborhoods and around the globe who experience systematic suffering and oppression everyday. There is a call in The Louder Song for all of us to begin lamenting loudly with and for others—as I believe this is one of the highest callings of the church—and crucial if we want to build relational bridges with the gospel.

Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book? I write about the various theological expressions of lament in the book, and one thing briefly talk about is the structure of laments. Most laments move from How (How could you, God?) to Yet (Yet, I will worship you, God.) to With (You are with me, God. Or I will lament with others, God.) As I wrote, God literally moved my heart through these phases. I was lost in my Hows, eventually moved to Yet, and then shifted again to understanding God’s “Withness” in a whole new way.

Our hope in suffering is never found in “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. By his suffering, we are saved in ours. That’s something I already “knew,” but began to be shaped by, and deeply believe, as I wrote.

How and where can we find you on the internet?

Aubrey’s Website

Aubrey’s Twitter

Aubrey’s Facebook

Aubrey’s Instagram

Well, there you go, m’dears! If you’d like to win a copy of Aubrey’s new book, simply leave a message here or visit my Instagram page in a couple of days for more chances to win. Good luck! 

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