It has barely been over one week since our wonderful boy died. It was fast, sudden, and completely unexpected. It was not an accident or a prolonged illness, but rather a bacterial infection of the blood. We are thankful for the small grace that he was in very little pain and it was swift. But that is, as they say, cold comfort. We are riven with grief, disbelief, and the fundamental truth that we just want our boy back. And so we cry, we grieve, we mourn, we…just do what we can, not only for ourselves, but our beautiful daughter, Mack’s big sister. And the incredible boys and girls who are suddenly without their goalie, classmate, and fellow-adventurer.
Those who have only gotten to know me (or my blog) over the last 6 or 8 years, or even the last 6 or 8 days, may not know that I spent nearly a decade working on the biblical Book of Lamentations and its rabbinic interpretation, specifically the Targum. No amount of studying laments can prepare you for the devastation that comes with your own personal, gut eating, mind breaking tragedy. I can tell you that I believe the only theology that accommodates such tragedy is the reality that we live in a broken world; this is not how it was supposed to be. No one is being punished, prayers were not insufficient, nor was God being vindictive. We live in a hurt and suffering world and none of us can escape that.
What I did learn from Lamentations and the Psalms is that when we are hurt in this unjust and wicked way it is OK, even necessary, to be angry with God. As a wonderful colleague and mentor said to me last week, “God can take it and he should be used to it by now, given all the grief in this world.” How can I help but find myself in the “I” of chapter 3?
Lam 3:1 I am one who has seen affliction
under the rod of God’s wrath;
2 he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
3 against me alone he turns his hand,
again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away,
and broken my bones;
5 he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
6 he has made me sit in darkness
like the dead of long ago.
I hope and pray, though, that the rest of chapter 3 is true as well.
31 For the Lord will not
32 Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone.
A last note. I am not trying to “pastor” anyone other than myself in what I write. I need to think out loud in order to work through it all.
16 thoughts on “How to lament”
On my knees I pray God bless you all and may big sister be blessed with more than imaginable and give her parents extraordinary joy!
Still praying for your dear sweet family! Love and hugs!!!
This is beautiful. God is with you, as is your son. On my parents’ tombstone it reads: “They are with Him, He is in us, they cannot be far away.” God Bless you and your family.
I am reading a book– “I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye”, that deals with grieving after a sudden death It was helpful in some ways. Thank-you for your brave blog and may little pockets of peace find their way to you and your family and give you strength
I am so sorry for your the loss of your little angel, as a parent I can not imagine the anguish, u have my heartfelt condolenses….I want to thank you for your post….I find it spiritually helpful….I am have issues with my faith, I get angry with God often due to the amount of senseless human suffering I see and hear about and its helpful to read this blog,,,,my step son is a police officer and just 2 nights ago he was called to a house where 2 toddlers and an infant died trapped in a fire due to parental negligence and when I hear of children suffering or dying so early in life it shakes my faith and my soul aches for them….again thanks for blogging
Thank you for sharing your grief with us. I believe with you that “the only theology that accommodates such tragedy is the reality that we live in a broken world; this is not how it was supposed to be.” Praying for you to somehow still trust in God’s steadfast love and know his presence.
I lost my brother. He was my window to things I left behind, my big brother for he was always there. One day, he called and said he was going to have an operation. Then, after three months of that, he was gone, on a cold December afternoon. The only “comfort” we have is that he did not meet the pain that many with his illness suffered before their end. And the only comfort I have is that I was able to spend almost half of his last three months with him. But, I don’t understand. How come a wonderful person, with so much to offer, and with just newly born twins, can leave this world so suddenly?
Erol, I am sorry for your loss. I believe we can describe, we can explain “how” your brother and my son died, but “why” is a theological question that requires revelation, revelation that I am not sure we, or most of us, will ever have in this world.
The photo shows how vulnerable life is… I was shocked to hear from you son’s death; we all were in the Dutch Targum Project. I am very sorry for you and your family. We will keep you in mind when we pray and I hope that some day you will indeed know and hear that God has not rejected.
Thank you so much Eveline. I know that God is speaking, it is learning how to listen that is the challenge.
I ached on reading this. You are all in my prayers.
We lost our wonderful son over 4 years ago. He was a newspaper editor and as such made a huge contribution to our community and family and so his lost has resulted in a indescribable void in the lives of many. I have come to believe this is God’s plan for all of us. This brings a measure of comfort but certainly does not cover the separation anxiety so present and brought to the fore with the least little reminder.