It’s OK to Be Not OK: Preaching the Lament Psalms

How often have you seen a friend and been greeted with “How are you?” Almost always our automatic response is “Fine thank you” regardless of whether it’s true.

We proclaim in church services that “God is good all the time . . . All the time God is good,” but there are often times when we feel that life is just unfair and ask God, “Why?”

The uplifting songs and victorious testimonies of our church gatherings are frequently difficult to identify within the midst of the suffering and hardship of people’s daily lives, yet there is all too often no room for our “not-OK” experiences in our Christian communities. This is especially true for pastors and leaders who are required to always be strong and OK all the time.

But the songs of lament in the Psalms paint a very different picture of understanding life and how human beings express themselves to God. Dr Rico Villanueva uses these Scriptures to teach us that in the presence of God, there is room to be “not-OK” and that our negative experiences don’t have to be ignored. This book challenges us to confront our struggles and questions instead of denying them. Most importantly, the author invites us to bring all of ourselves into the presence of God and the community of faith. For it is through our experiences and sharing them with God and his church that we grow in intimacy with God and our relationships with one another.

Table of Contents

    1. Foreword
    2. Preface


    1. 1 – Introduction
    2. 2 – Learning from the Lament Psalms
    3. 3 – It’s OK to Be Down
    4. 4 – It’s OK to Be Sad
    5. 5 – It’s OK to Cry
    6. 6 – It’s OK to Be Afraid
    7. 7 – It’s OK to Struggle
    8. 8 – It’s OK to Be Angry
    9. 9 – It’s OK to Question God
    10. 10 – It’s OK to Fail
    11. 11 – Conclusion


  1. Appendix: Sample Sermons on Lament Psalms
  2. Further Reading



Federico Villanueva writes about one of the most difficult tasks any pastor has in the face of tragedy. It is often not possible during such times to rationally or theologically explain why such events occur. This book is not about giving an answer as to why bad things happen. It is a resource for pastors as it addresses the various issues and feelings that a tragedy evokes and then points to a Psalm that deals with it. What then is most helpful is that he provides sermon outlines that a pastor can use.

Rev Rupen Das
Research Professor
Tyndale University College and Seminary

This book is a gem, containing both rich and sensitive pastoral wisdom as well as deep biblical reflection. Dr Villanueva brings his academic expertise as well as his pastoral heart to make this an accessible and useful book that pastors and preachers will benefit from enormously.

Rev Paul Barker
Assitant Bishop,
Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Australia

Too often, our meetings inhabit a different world from the real one, a world of constant joy and easy life. But the Bible is not like that, as Rico’s faithful expositions make so clear. This is food for the mind and balm for the soul, and will restore much needed realism to many churches.

Mark Meynell
Associate Director – Europe & Caribbean,
Preaching Programme, Langham Partnership

Weight 0.550 kg


Page Count


Year Published





Federico G. Villanueva


Langham Publishing


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