Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Power of Lament in a Writer’s Life

by Audrey Frank @AudreyCFrank

Inspired by Psalm 40


I waited patiently for the Lord

            to open a door for my manuscript

He turned to me and heard my cry;

            he brought me up out of the slush pile,

            out of the miry clay of anonymity.


Then He put a new book in my heart,

            a testament of praise to our God.

Many will read and fear the Lord

            and put their trust in him.


Blessed is the writer

            who trusts in the Lord,

who does not look to platform numbers,

            to bestseller lists and Amazon rankings.


Many, Lord my God, 

            are the wonders you have done,

            the true stories you have written in the lives of people.

No story can compare to yours,

            were I to write and tell of your deeds,

            they would fill more books than the Library of Congress could shelve.


May all who rejected my manuscript

            be sorry one day;

May all who said I could not write well

            change their minds when they see how far I’ve come.


But may all writers who seek you first

            rejoice and be glad in you;

            may those who long for your help to write a book always say,

            “The Lord is great!”


As for me, I am a poor and needy writer;

            may the Lord think of me as I take up my pen.

You are my help and my deliverer;

            you are my God, give me your words today I pray.


If Bono can do it, so can I.


On the night he and his band U2 recorded the 1983 album War, Bono flipped open his Bible and read Psalm 40. From its words came the inspiration for what has since become one of U2’s most famous songs, “40,” also known as “How Long.” 


Although the song of lament became a fun game of “How long will we sing this song,” Bono appreciated the stirring refrain of a heart crying out to God for help.


According to A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch, lament is a poem expressing personal loss and grief. Lament was an integral part of many ancient cultures and provided an outlet to express sorrow and disappointment. 

In Hebrew tradition, lament was addressed to God and was generally composed of the following five elements: address, complaint, affirmation of trust, petition for deliverance, and praise.


Lament can be a valuable tool for writers. Our journey is often riddled with disappointment and frustration. We can become discouraged and bitter or we can practice lament to navigate our emotions and strengthen our trust in the One who called us to write.


The power of lament in a writer’s life can be seen in the words of King David, author of Psalm 40. 


He knew disappointment and sorrow and was painfully acquainted with rejection. Some of the most beautiful laments in Hebrew literature were penned by the shepherd king who was brave enough to share his journey through honest prose. He practiced the art of praising God while waiting for His help to come. He learned to bring his complaints to God and trust Him to work on his behalf.


Complaint on its own, especially when shared with another person, fuels resentment and leads to slander. Complaint poured out to God, however, is safe, for it comes with the marvelous possibility of transformation for both complainer and offender. I think of it as a win-win situation. If the complaint of my heart is misguided, the Lord will change my heart or open my eyes to something I did not understand before. If my offender is the misguided one, the Lord can change her heart or open her eyes. 


Either way, like David, I can entrust all that concerns me to God and trust Him to help me.


Biblical lament gives permission to complain. It offers a template for trust. It gives the power to praise. Lament promises, as Michael Card said, “that the path is going somewhere” (A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament). 

Some days it feels like the writer’s life is not going anywhere

Does anyone read my words? Will I ever find a publisher? Do I have the courage to continue writing after that scathing critique? Maybe this is a pipe dream.


Writers would do well to learn the lost art of lament. When we bring our complaints to God, we receive his help. We find patience to wait and persevere through the arduous process of birthing a book. We gain courage to keep going when we want to quit.


Don’t quit today, dear writer. Pour out your lament and look up! Help is on its way.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5). 


Audrey Frank is an author, speaker, and storyteller. The stories she shares are brave and true. They give voice to those whose words are silenced by shame, the hard things in life that don’t make sense, and the losses that leave us wondering if we will survive. Audrey and her family have spent over twenty years living and working among different cultures and world views, and she has found that God’s story of redemption spans every geography and culture. He is the God of Instead, giving honor instead of shame, gladness instead of mourning, hope instead of despair. Although she has three different degrees in communication and intercultural studies, Audrey’s greatest credential is that she is known and loved by the One who made her.

Audrey is the author of Covered Glory: The Face of Honor and Shame in the Muslim World (Harvest House Publishers), an outpouring of Audrey’s heart to introduce others to the God of Instead. Shame is not unique to the developing world, the plight of the women behind veils, young girls trafficked across borders; shame is lurking in hearts everywhere. Through powerful stories from women around the world, Covered Glory illuminates the power of the Gospel to remove shame, giving honor instead. Available at favorite booksellers: BARNES & NOBLE , BOOKS A MILLION, AMAZON.


  1. Thank you. Bless you for sharing this.

  2. Beautiful words and thoughts! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Wonderful post, Audrey. So well written. I appreciate your message. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  4. Thank you, Audrey, for your Writer’s Psalm. In those few lines you captured the experience so many of us go through but don’t have words for.