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Saturday, December 08, 2007

On Lament

In the midst of chaos I am longing for a small spot of order . . . So have taken to organizing bookshelves whenever I have a couple of hours at home (I’m sure there are decent and deep psychiatric reasons, but it is a pretty useful coping mechanism, and probably a good sign to have the energy to begin to do so).  Hardly anyone dares to come to our house anymore.  As contacts we are supposed to practice “social distancing” . . . A bizarre and unexpected opportunity to pull hundreds of books and years of dust and pen caps and random scraps of paper and broken flash lights and all the other detritus of life that accumulates on any horizontal surface from the bookshelves (we have many).  In the process this morning I came across a book by Michael Card called “A Sacred Sorrow:  Reaching out to God in the Lost Language of Lament.”  Ruth Ann Batstone gave it to me a few months ago but I had not opened it yet.  He opens the first chapter:  “Before there were drops of rain, human tears fell in the garden, and that was when lament began.”  His premise is that the Bible is full of the songs of complaint, frustration, sorrow, even anger; because the path to God is a “tearful trail.”

When I step back from the science, the advocacy, the planning, the medicine . . . I am left with the hollow-hearted shock that Jonah has died, and that more will follow.  And I am not here to justify or explain that, rather to acknowledge and experience it.  So I want to copy here a paragraph from this book’s forward by Eugene Peterson:
    It is also necessary as a witness, a Jesus-witness to the men and women who are trying to live a life that avoids suffering at all costs, including the cost of their own souls.  For at least one reason why people are uncomfortable with tears and the sight of suffering is that it is a blasphemous assault on their precariously maintained  . . spirituality of the pursuit of happiness.  They want to avoid evidence that things are not right with the world as it is—without Jesus (and Job, David, and Jeremiah), without love, without faith, without sacrifice.  It is a lot easier to keep the American faith if they don’t have to look into the face of suffering, if they don’t have to listen to our laments, if they don’t have to deal with our tears.  
    So learning the language of lament is not only necessary to restore Christian dignity to suffering and repentance and death, it is necessary to provide a Christian witness to a world that has no language for and is therefore oblivious to the glories of wilderness and cross.

I hope that many have the grace to weep and pray with Bundibugyo, and so discover the wilderness where God’s presence flames.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are weeping and praying with/for Bundibugyo. You all feel as if you are a true part of our daily lives. We grieve, fear, and HOPE with you. Our hope is truly in the Lord!

<> said...

Psalms 69:29-31 says, "But I am afflicted and in pain...I will praise the name of God with song and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the Lord better than an ox or a young bull..."

I have find these verses interesting. It is proof that praising God is a choice we make that is not based on our circumstances. I heard my sunday school teacher say once that when we turn to God in difficult times instead of away from Him, it is a form of worship; like Job did when his children died. We think of worship as joyful (which implies circumstances in our lives that we are rejoicing over) but when there is great pain in our lives and we still turn to God, even if it is with great weeping, it is still worship of the one true and soverign God.

Thank you for your comments on lament....praying for you.

Scott said...

Thank you for the time you are putting into this blog. We, here in Mbarara, are keeping up with the situation through you.

We are praying for you and your ministry. God bless you and those you are ministering to.

Guy & Susan Rainsford said...

You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst. You shall wander far in safety, though you do not know the way, You shall speak your words to foreign men and they will understand. You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid; I go before you always. Come, follow me and I will give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters, in the sea, you shall not drown. If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed. If you stand before the power of hell and death is at your side, know that I am with you through it all.

Be not afraid; I go before you always. Come, follow me and I will give you rest.

"Be not afraid" St. Louis Jesuits

Scott & Jennifer, this is our prayer for you in your time of laying down your lives in love for those you love because of the love of God that reigns in your hearts. We love you.

Guy & Susan Rainsford

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer and Scott,
I too grieve with you with my whole heart over the tragic death of this most important and most beloved doctor, Jonah Kule. I believe that God wants us to use our sorrow over Dr. Jonah's tragic death to accomplish some good purpose. You mentioned a scholarship fund to make certain that his children (and brothers?) are able to pursue their educations.
I feel that I should do as much as we are able to do to raise an ENDOWMENt FUND that will initially provide for the education of Dr. Jonah's family--his children and his brothers--but will later continue to assist exceptionally dedicated and able students from the Bundibugyo to pursue an advanced education in health care. Any additional money from this endowment should be used to support the medical needs of your mission. All of this should be done in Jonah Kule's name and to the glory of God. I hope that anyone reading this blog, who sees the worth of this work, will join me in this effort toward an endowment. My husband and I pledge the first $1,000 toward this endowment. I pray others will join ua, no matter how small the gift, in this effort which would continue to honor Dr. Kule into the future. Judy in HMB

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer, there are more people than you can imagine who are following your story. We weep as we read your posts, and we pray for the safety of all concerned. You do not know us, but the Lord has brought us together for this time. I do hope that the Lord is glorified in the provision that He sends for Jonah's family. It will be a privilege to contribute.