Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop: a Book Review
I had never heard much about lament until one day when I was listening to The Pastor’s Talk Podcast. On that particular podcast, Mark Vroegop was being interviewed on the subject of lament. After listening to the conversation, I knew I wanted to know more and needed to read Vroegop’s book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy.
Mark Vroegop is the lead pastor of College Park Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. He also speaks at conferences, is a council member with the Gospel Coalition, and a trustee at Cedarville University.
In Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy Mark will introduce you to lament as a gift of grace that is uniquely Christian. He says, “The aim of this book is to help you discover the grace of lament—to encourage you to find deep mercy in dark clouds" (Loc 289, Kindle edition). Vroegop is passionate about lament and the book is filled with practical examples of how he has counseled and led people to lament and lamented himself. He also shows you what lament looks like in prayer through biblical examples including Psalms, Job, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and more. Vroegop reminds us over and over again in this book that, “To cry is human, but to lament is Christian” (Loc 347).
Practically, the book is broken into three sections: Learning to Lament, Learning from Lament, and Living with Lament. In section 1, the reader is taught the process of lament. How do I do this? It’s a fair question as lament is something not often taught in church. In section 2, Vroegop shows us the importance of learning in our pain. Lament isn’t just therapeutic, it’s meant to teach us something. Vroegop says, “Suffering—at ever level—is an opportunity to learn. However, we must be willing to listen” (Loc 1266). In section 3, Vroegop fleshes out what lament looks like in everyday life and shows us how we can use lament to aid us in ways we probably wouldn’t have concluded on our own.
The book also contains four helpful appendices regarding complaints, Psalms of Lament, worksheets for learning to lament, and how to turn and trust God in lament. These are very practical and helpful in actually learning how to lament yourself and in coaching others.
I wish I had heard about lament sooner. After reading this book, I can see how helpful lament is—so much so—that I plan to recommend this resource to others often. I would like to buy a physical copy that I can share with people. Lament is not only helpful personally, but it is also a valuable asset to use in counseling and in corporate church life. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I will leave you with some final words from Vroegop about the value of lamenting:
You see, Christianity need scompetent lamenters. The gospel empowers the followers of Jesus to enter the dark moments of people’s lives. Those who know the story of hope and who believe in God’s goodness can be conduits of his grace. Lament allows us to hear the brokenness around us, weep with those who weep, and walk with them on the long road of sorrow (Loc 2738).
You can buy Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy on Amazon.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for a fair and honest review.