Friday, December 2, 2022

Laughter and Lament by Steve Brown Book Review

About the Book:

What do we do with the sadness and the joy that living in a broken world brings to our lives? Most try to avoid the tears and focus on finding happiness, but does that really work? Denial might help to alleviate pain for the short run, but eventually lament must be faced and expressed. In
 Laughter and Lament: The Radical Freedom of Joy and Sorrow (New Growth Press/October 24, 2022), Steve Brown shows how learning to lament honestly to God is the surprising path to learning about real joy.

When we experience or see tragedy, we expect tears, fear, and sometimes anger, and when we experience the good and pleasant, we expect joy and maybe even laughter. However, laughter and lament are often found together in unexpected places. How can we explain the opposite effect—laughter in the pain and tears in the joy?

We are created in the image of God. There is a surprising biblical reason why we laugh and lament. It’s because God is sorrowful and glad,” Brown explains. “With all due respect to the opposing views in theological circles about the emotions of God, the Bible portrays a God who feels deeply and acts passionately. His humor is everywhere and his tears, as it were, fall from the pages of the Bible.”

Brown shares that speaking honestly about the ways we have been hurt and the ways we have hurt others opens the door to the joy of God’s presence even as we grieve. Instead of pretending that everything is fine, going to God with all of our laments fills us with the freedom and joy of knowing his love and forgiveness. This is the surprising message of freedom that Christians have to share with a world where pain is almost always cursed and laughter is almost always cynical.

A good deal of depression and other emotional maladies we experience are simply because we have no place to take our honest feelings. I’m a man of prayer, not because I’m so spiritual, but because, frankly, I don’t have any other place to go with those feelings except God.” Brown writes. “I pray because it’s the only place where I don’t have to defend myself, pretend that I’m better than I am, or be religious. It’s a place of freedom.”

Of Laughter and Lament, pastor and author Dane Ortlund shares, “Vintage Steve Brown—earthy, honest, refreshingly self-deprecating, and relentlessly zeroed in on the good news of unearned divine favor. This book will fend off cynicism and foster joy as Steve coaches us all into a life of Christian realism—both happiness and anguish, both uproarious laughter and bristling anger. Healthy Christians experience both and knowing this fortifies us to live life well.”


My Review:

We are going to have tribulation in this world, Brown reminds us. John 16:33 promises it. But we will also have laughter because John 16:33 also promises Jesus has overcome the world. So how does a Christian live in both of these realms?

Brown is old enough and been a faithful believer long enough that he has no desire to impress anybody. He is just real. In fact, he writes, “God's gift to his people is the freedom to be real...” (239/2151) That means we don't put on a religious face. We have permission to be authentic and express our feelings, our frustrations, our anger. “Jesus didn't die to make us nice,” he writes. (625/2151) We miss out on deep intimacy with God when we fail to share with him the depths of our pain and our joy.

Brown says he is not interested in being particularly spiritual. He's been there, done that. He cusses. In fact, he teaches readers how to cuss in Latin. That way people will think you are terribly smart and not know at all you are cussing.

Some may think Brown irreverent but I see a man old enough to quit at playing the act religious game. He's real with God and he is real with us. Reading this book will give you the freedom to be real with God. It will give you the freedom to express pain and genuine lament, real repentance and the freedom of laughter. But be ready to be honest and real. No phony people will appreciate Brown's book.

My rating: 5/5 stars.


About the Author:

Steve Brown is the Founder of Key Life Network, Inc., the Bible teacher on the radio program Key Life and host of the talk show Steve Brown, Etc. A former pastor, he is also a frequent in-demand speaker and visiting seminary lecturer.

He has authored numerous books, including How to Talk So People Will ListenThree Free SinsHidden Agendas, Talk the Walk, and his latest release, Laughter and Lament. Brown has also written for publications such as LeadershipDecisionPlain Truth, and Today’s Christian Woman. He previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of Christianity Today and Harvest USA.

Brown and his wife, Anna, have been married for more than sixty years. They have two married daughters and three granddaughters. They make their home in Orlando, FL.

Learn more at and follow him on Facebook (@Dr.SteveBrown) and Twitter (@DrSteveWBrown).

New Growth Press, 176 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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