“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” James Baldwin
I've been tearing through books during our time in quarantine. Books are the ultimate multi-tool. Books are a distraction, a time travel portal, a portrait of beauty and impossibility, and what better way to see the world when you can't leave home?
I was thankful to read James Baldwin adding one more gift of books to mind. When I read, I know I am not alone. I haven't invented any of my suffering, someone else long ago already discovered this desert land. There is great comfort in that, as well as great wisdom to be found in how to handle our struggles.
The Bible is especially good at the art of lament. Despite how often there is hope and joy in the scripture, there are also many and varied passages full of the pain and grief we are all carrying right now. For example, Lamentations 1:4...
The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the festivals;
all her gates are desolate,
her priests groan;
her young girls grieve,
and her lot is bitter.
When you are feeling especially lonely and tired, I encourage you to go to the word of God. Your pain is not new, nor is it eternal.
Rev. Jana Quisenberry is the minister at Brightwood Christian Church. She's an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, She now resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, two children, and dog, Sookie. Pastor Jana loves the church, science fiction, and coffee.
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