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Finding Lost Words

By: G.Geoffrey Harper & Kit Barker (Editors)

Format: Soft cover


Finding Lost Words: The Church’s Right to Lament
Australian College of Theology Monograph Series

The brokenness of this world inevitably invades our lives. But how do you maintain faith when overwhelmed by grief? When prayer goes unanswered? When all you have are questions, not answers? What do you say to God when you know he is in control but the suffering continues unabated? Is there any alternative to remaining speechless in the midst of pain and heartbreak?

This book is about finding words to use when life is hard. These words are not new. They are modes of expression that the church has drawn on in times of grief throughout most of its history. Yet, the church in the West has largely abandoned these words – the psalms of lament. The result is that believers often struggle to know what to do or say when faced with distress, anxiety, and loss. Whether you are in Christian leadership, training for ministry, or simply struggling to reconcile experience with biblical convictions, Finding Lost Words will help you consider how these ancient words can become your own.

Edited by:
G. Geoffrey Harper and Kit Barker

Other Contributors:
Rachel Ciano, David Cohen, Peter Davis, Nick Freestone, Malcolm Gill, Ian Maddock, Kirk Patston, Andrew Shead, Andrew Sloane, Rob Smith, Alan Thompson, Don West, Sharon Wood and Dan Wu.


"As the contributors to Finding Lost Words so insightfully point out, the Psalms offer us a robust invitation to express our honest feelings before God. I found this volume utterly compelling and encourage everyone to read this book and let the laments of the Psalms teach you how to pray." – Tremper Longman III, Westmont College

"This book is a work the church needs. Lament is a missing practice in the praying life of too many Christians in a broken world. It needs to be recovered. After all we find it in psalm after psalm. . . . Scripture not only gives us a language for our joys, it also gives us a language for our confusions, disappointments, and even anger towards God. In this work, a constellation of careful thinkers and practitioners serve us so very well. I commend it without reservation."  – Graham A. Cole, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"There is a level of superficiality in the spiritual experience of today's church that needs to be challenged. . . . Finding Lost Words is an excellent set of readable essays dealing with the theology and practice of lament from an exegetical, historical, and pastoral perspective. I don't want to overstate things but, if we really hear the message of this book, it will change the way we do church." – Jamie A. Grant, Highland Theological College UHI

"Like a well-cut diamond, this collection of essays radiates light in many directions, helping readers to see the biblical concept of lament from different perspectives with greater clarity. . . . This timely volume offers a much needed rebalance to Christian theology that often appears to have lost sight of the pain and suffering caused by the reality of evil in our broken world." – T. Desmond Alexander, Union Theological College, Belfast

Table of Contents:

INTRODUCTION: “Weeping May Endure for a Night”: The Need to Find Lost Words – G. Geoffrey Harper and Kit Barker

PART I: The History of Lament

1. Lament Psalms in the Church: A History of Recent Neglect – Rachel Ciano

2. A Song Once Known: The Use of Psalm by Calvin, Henry, Wesley, and Simeon – Ian J. Maddock

3. “Consolation for the Despairing”: C.H. Spurgeon’s Endorsement of Lament Psalms in Public Worship – Alan J. Thompson

PART II: The Theology of Lament

4. Lament as Divine Discourse: God’s Voice in Our Cry – Kit Barker

5. “Why O Lord?” Lament as a Window to the Human Experience of Distress – David J. Cohen

6. Lament and the Sovereignty  of God: Theological Reflections on Psalm 88 – G.Geoffrey Harper

7.Finding Our Words in His: Christology and Lament – Kit Barker

8. The Shape and Function of New Testament Lament – Donald West

9. Man of Sorrows, What a Name! The Place of Lament in the New Testament – David K. Burge

PART III: The Exegesis of Lament

10. The Role of Lament in the Shape of the Psalter – Dan Wu

11. Silence of the Lambs: A Lost Cry of Lament in Psalm 8 – G.Geoffrey Harper

12. Weeping with the Afflicted: The Self-Involving Language of the Laments – Andrew Sloane

13. Baking the Bread of Tears: A Recipe for Translating Psalm 80 – Andrew G. Shead

PART IV: The Practice of Lament

14. Preaching Lament – Peter J. Davis

15. Singing Lament – Robert S. Smith

16. Praying Lament – Malcolm Gill

17. Lament and Pastoral Care – Kirk R. Patston

PART V: The Demonstration of Lament

18. “A strengthening Song for the Sad Soul”: A Sermon on Psalm 13 – Malcolm J. Gill

19. “My Only Friend – Darkness” : A sermon on Psalm 88 – G. Geoffrey Harper

20.  “How Could We Sing”: A Sermon on Psalm 137 – Kit Barker

21“You Are the God Who Saves Me”: Singing Psalm 88 – Nick Freestone (with reflections from Kit Barker and G. Geoffrey Harper)

22. If Jesus Wept, You Can Too – Sharon Wood

SMBC, PO Box 83
43 Badminton Road, Croydon NSW 2132
T +61 2 9747 4780
Sydney Missionary and Bible College is an affiliated college with the Australian College of Theology
ACT Cricos Code Provider: 02650E
ABN: 11 000 047 950