Step 4: Examine Our Ways: Lamentations

STEP 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40

Lamentations, the book of the Bible that the Biblical comparison for Step 4 is found, was written by the prophet Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem around 586 B.C. This book shows the humility and pain felt by the Israelites exiled to Babylon. The pages are filled with soul searching, a moral inventory, of how this destruction was the result of their own prideful choices—much like when we write our own fourth step.

The title of this book comes from the word “lament” which means a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. Common synonyms for lament are sob, moan, weep, wail and cry. As we fearlessly search through our moral inventory, it can bring up many negative emotions.  We might grieve for what could have been. We probably will have regrets for what we’ve done. We will feel sorrowful which may cause us to weep, cry and even sob as we note various transgressions in our inventory.

All of this can be a very healthy part of the process. The tears and lamentations can provide the cleansing we need to wash this past away and begin anew.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:19-24 NIV

In the above passage, Jeremiah shows us an excellent example of expressing pain to God. In the midst of his agony, Jeremiah found one ray of hope despite the destruction around him—God’s love never ceases! As you work through your fourth step, share your fears, regrets, and anger with God. He is the Great Comforter. God accepted Jeremiah as he was—angry, tired, and discouraged. He will accept you, your feelings, and all parts of your moral inventory too.

Other Key Verses from Lamentations 3

But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit.  You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.” Lamentations 3:55-57 NLT

Examine your heart

  1. Being fearless in our fourth step means facing negative emotions stirred up from our inventory. Is there any other fears you have as you consider working this step?
  2. Do you feel comfortable sharing your negative emotions with God? Why or why not?


Dear Lord, I know you love and accept me just as I am, but there are parts of my past that I regret and cause me to feel shameful. So Lord, please guide me and give me strength. If you are with me, I will not fear. Please offer me comfort and strength to look at my moral inventory as You see it. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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