“O God, is this any way to run a world?”
As you know I hate it when people say or write stuff before I get a chance to say it. I mean surely, I would display such brilliance if only given more time on this planet. (I hope you realize that I say those words with more than a small amount of sarcasm.)
The truth is while I might say “I wish I would have said that,” the truth is I never would have…which is why I find reading so valuable and appreciate so much the powerful words of others.
I know it is hard sometimes in all our “doing” to slow down and read, but I hope you will for increased knowledge, spiritual growth, and pleasure. My daily to-do list actually includes a “To Do”of 15 minutes of uninterrupted reading. I always find it to be worth the time and come away from my reading either challenged or refreshed (and sometimes both.)
In my reading within the last week I came across a blog from a UCC minister named Abram Kielsmeier-Jones, who is Pastor at South End Neighborhood Church. I came across it while reading some poetry from a poet we both love and admire named Ann Weems.
As so often happens I ended up sharing these words with a friend who is going through a time of grief from the loss of both a friend and a relative due to COVID in recent weeks.
A day later I shared them with one who lost a father due to dementia and then later emailed the poem to a colleague.
Suddenly it occurred to me that perhaps a few of you needed these words, so I scrapped what I was working on—I’ll save it for another time—and asked permission from Rev. Kielsmeier-Jones to share his post.
May these words give you comfort and courage during the seasons of lament in your life.
“O God, is this any way to run a world?”
Whether it’s another school shooting, a cancer diagnosis, an unjust imprisonment, violence perpetrated against the peaceful, or an unkind word that brings tears to the eyes of the one who received it… there’s a lot to lament in this world–too much.
A year-and-a-half ago I read a fantastic book called Psalms of Lament by Ann Weems (see more here). I continue to come back to her modern-day lament psalms from time to time. Of course, it’s hard to top the lament psalms in the biblical book of Psalms, so really Weems and David go together. I appreciate the freshness with which Weems approaches the important practice of lament.
Weems tragically lost her son just after his 21st birthday. It is out of that sense of loss and grieving that she writes many of her lament psalms. She says:
This book is not for everyone. It is for those who weep and for those who weep with those who weep. It is for those whose souls struggle with the dailiness of faithkeeping in the midst of life’s assaults and obscenities. This book is for those who are living with scalding tears running down their cheeks.
So if you are weeping right now, or weeping with someone who is weeping… or if you feel like maybe you should be weeping but can’t, or don’t know how… here is Weems’s Lament Psalm Thirty-two (posted with publisher’s permission), which can help to give shape and voice to a heartfelt prayer of lament:
O God, explain to me the cruelty of your world! Make sense of those who make no sense! Tell me why the innocent die, and evil people live to kill again! Tell me why the faithful are shunned, and the self-righteous point their fingers! Tell me why the wounded are wounded, and sorrow falls on the shoulder of sorrow! Tell me why the abused are abused, and the victims victimized! Tell me why the rains come to the drowning, and aftershocks follow earthquakes. O God, is this any way to run a world? O Merciful One, let us rest between tragedies!
Speak to us for we are your people.
Speak to us of hope for the hopeless and love for the unloved and homes for the homeless and dignity for the dying and respect for the disdained.
Speak to us, O God, of the Resurrected One! Speak to us of hope, for in spite of the tidal wave of tears, we remember your story of new life!
Tell the world again, O God of creation! Tell us that winter will fade, and spring will wash us new, and the world will green again, and we will be new creations in the garden of our God. Free us from these tentacles of sorrow, and we will fall on our faces and worship you, O God of goodness, O God of a new green world!