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Colin Smith on Teaching Lamentations to Grieving People

Colin Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church—a thriving, multi-campus church located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago—and a TGC Council member. He’s also president of Unlocking the Bible, a ministry that seeks to root people in the Word of God through their website, publishing, podcast, and radio program.

When Smith asked me to read his newest book, For All Who Grieve: Navigating the Valley of Sorrow and Loss, in view of offering an endorsement, not only was I glad to endorse it, I discovered the book is really an exposition through Lamentations. Lamentations is a book few preachers and teachers seem to teach all the way through. Written by Jeremiah, who endured one manifestation of the divine judgment the Bible consistently calls “the day of the Lord,” this brief book not only includes vivid descriptions of judgment; it also offers compelling prayers that confess sin, express renewed hope, and declare total dependence on God’s grace.

In our conversation, Smith explained how he structured his own sermon series on Lamentations into four messages on: (1) Tears and Talk, (2) Guilt and Grievance, (3) Hope and Healing, and (4) Prayer and Praise. He also explained some of the ways this book, written by a prophet weeping over Jerusalem, points to the greater prophet who will also weep over Jerusalem. The man of sorrows seems to speak through Lamentations, saying along with the writer, “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath” (3:1) and, “Though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer” (3:8).

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