“A Spontaneous Lament”

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I am currently reading a new book by professor Kelly M. Kapic called Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering. It’s a fantastic book thus far, and I’ll likely write up a review whenever I finish it. Suffice it to say that for now, it’s one of the better books that I have read this year. Kapic takes an honest look at suffering and offers continual wisdom throughout the pages. I’ve underlined so much.

In a chapter on lament (my favorite chapter so far), Kapic argues for the necessity of lament in the Christian life. He observes that most of the time, we try to suppress or dismiss lamentation. We consider it weakness, or giving in. On the contrary, lament is actually a sign of love. To put it Kapic’s way, “If we never lament, then it is legitimate to wonder if we have ever truly loved” (29). Kapic concludes, “If we do not restore space for lament in our individual and corporate church life, our suffering will drive us not only away from others but away from God himself” (31). Lament, then, is not us bemoaning God’s presence; it is our cry to feel it.

Kapic goes on to tell a story about his friend, Bob. Bob was auditing one of Kapic’s classes, and had to complete an assignment for the class: write a personal lament. Bob struggled a bit at first, according to Kapic. He had been dealing with the difficulties of caring for elderly parents, and given the exercise of putting your laments down in word form for a grade (and further, for God), can be tough to do. Bob eventually turned his lament in. Kapic included it in its entirety in his book, and it moved me. I thought I would share it. It’s called “A Spontaneous Lament.”


Why did my daughter’s husband break her heart?
      I know, little child
Won’t you tell me, Father?
      I won’t, my son

Why does my wife have to live in pain?
      I know little child
Won’t you tell me, Father? It would make it easier
      It wouldn’t, my son

Why do parents have to bury their children? It isn’t right
      It isn’t, little child
Then get rid of death, Father
      I am, my son

Why are your people abused, persecuted and killed? Can’t you protect them?
      I can, little child
Then do something
      I did, my son

Why do my parents need to finish their lives in unrelenting misery? How is that merciful?
      It is, little child
How do you know Father?
      I have felt all the pain of sin, my son

But it all hurts so much sometimes
      I know it does, little child
How do you know, Father?
      I have felt all the pain of sin, my son

Can’t you make it all stop?
      I can, little child
Then do it, Father
      I started 2000 years ago and will finish soon, my son

I believe you, Father, help my unbelief
      I love you, my son


3 weeks later, Bob got a call from his doctor: pancreatic cancer.

Was Bob ready for this news? I don’t think so. And yet, I think he was.

When hard times darken our door, it is okay to lament and grieve. “Blessed are those who mourn.” It is okay, because the Father is there.

With you.

For you.

do something
      I did, my son

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1 thought on ““A Spontaneous Lament””

  1. A heartfelt cry is better than a hallelujah sometimes. This summer our pastor is taking us through the entire book of psalms. He lost his young son in an accident last year and has been sharing his grief and faith process. Teaching Americans to grieve and feel is no easy feat since I think we’re encultured to avoid so-called negative feelings, but as you highlight here the depth of our pain is proof of the depth and authenticity of our love.

    Like

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