The Cure for Wellness

Yellow, tan, and orange flowers in front of a brown and green field.

Originally, this was going to serve as an intro to a series on hungering for Emmanuel – seeing God with us in the spaces we find ourselves in. What I’ve realized after the following conversation with a friend, and similar subsequent ones, is that the message I have for these people who approach me with trepidation in admitting their hatred for God, for the Church, and for the people who claim Christ as their savior is not one of hope and joy and stick-with-it platitudes. There are simply no adequate words that can convey to them that God, a good God, is responsible for all of these things that have been taken from them and continue to.

And I have no answer for the countless non-believers who approach me with trepidation as they say, “hey, no offense, but you have to be out of your mind to associate with such terrible people who care so little for the world around them.” I usually just shrug and tell them I understand.

For too long, the burden of Kingdom building has been on the people who have had their homes torched and their ways of life desecrated. For too long, the Church has invested in the alienating of non-believers to coddle those who tithe. It is time that the people who proclaim the so-called Good News with sharp tongues and daggers are confronted with the inequities we perpetrate and the violence we unleash upon the children and Lamb of God.

This is not the feel good story of God with Us; it’s the story we preach and ask others to say: God Against Us.

“I don’t want to be guided into anything; I just wanted to tell someone that I was struggling.”

Sometimes, I’m asked why my writing is bent towards the sad and seemingly hopeless depravity of existence. My book is full of stories of people who die and struggle. My holiday reflections are framed for those who find themselves unable to get into the “holiday spirit.” Messages I preached when I was on a university ministry staff were often about the pieces of my life that were heavy to carry. This year, my posts have almost exclusively focused on the theme and practice of lament. The quote above, which I stole from someone I’m lucky to know, I think sums up why I’m drawn into this good and dark work.


Far too often we (the Church, America, etc.) run so quickly to grab a cure that we miss out on the power of speaking truth into the hurt. We launch into the guiding, not so much to be guided, but to escape the vulnerability of struggle. It’s an understandable urge, made even more understandable in the middle of a global pandemic. What would you give to have a cure for COVID? To never wear a mask in public again? To never argue on Facebook with someone about masks? To live life as we did in July of 2019?

Yet, we also know from our relationships how powerful it is to speak our pain, and how deeply hurtful it can be to be denied the opportunity. Think about a time when you vented to someone, maybe a partner or a parent, a friend or a teacher, and they immediately jumped into problem-solving mode. In some instances, when we’ve been reaching out for help and for resources and have constantly been denied, this is the perfect response. Often though, it is during our first time speaking the pain that we’re met with help when all we really wanted was validation that our pain existed. That it breathed deep in our lungs and sat in the inmost part of ourselves. That it demanded to be brought to the surface. More than we want to be cured, I think we mostly just want to be seen.

When I feel overwhelmed with the depths of our world’s current suffering, I drive or I write. On one such drive, I found myself contemplating the familiar songs on my lament playlist. The song Worn by Tenth Avenue North came on and I suddenly found myself screaming the lyrics underneath Mike’s voice.

Let me see redemption win. Let me see it, God.

Let me know in my bones that the struggle ends.

Let me know a world as frail and torn as this one can be mended.

I found myself shaking a fist at God and challenging Them to do something if They were going to do something. End the world. Rip us off the face of it. Or get down here and start sewing up at least one or two of this gaping holes. I desperately want a cure.


I came home and starting writing a letter to my soul, which turned into the poem I linked above and here. What I realized towards the end of it was that, as upset as I was about all of the problems we’re facing in the world right now, I’m more upset at the lack of acknowledgement, at the active refusal of suffering. I want a cure, I want it for myself and for the people I love, but before I want a cure, I want to be acknowledged as someone who is sick. I don’t want to be told that I am well when I am not. When I came across that quote from my friend, I swallowed it.

“I don’t want to be guided into anything; I just wanted to tell someone that I was struggling.”

There is so much beauty and power in lamenting, in declaring to yourself and another human that pain is real and difficult to live with.

When you search Google that you’re struggling with your faith, a whole list of articles and blogs come up with easy advice: ask God for guidance, pray, seek encouragement, discern what lesson God may be teaching you. But what might God be teaching us about the world that we’ve made in our suffering? And how can we start seeking guidance if we have no awareness of the problem?

If you’re the type of person who needs permission to feel, I’m giving it. Feeling sick is part of how you get better. There is, after all, no cure for wellness. Lament is so holy they wrote a few books on it. The Christ literally sat in a garden and just cried for a while. You’re doing a good work if you’re lamenting.

And if you’re not lamenting, maybe it’s time you started learning why we should. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore why people hate us, and why this hatred is reaping what we’ve sown.


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