I’ve been thinking for a long time about praying like the Psalmists, using the forms of Hebrew poetry to pray.
The Lament is the most common form in the Psalms, and it’s a wonderful form because you fully complain, but the form brings you back around to remembering that God’s going to take care of this. You even plan how you will rejoice when you get through it. So — I’m going to do a practice Lament about the coronavirus.
This isn’t polished, it’s not pretty. But I want it to be something anyone can do.
I wrote this with two things in mind: I tried to use parallelism, repeating myself. And I tried to use the form of a Lament:
1) Address to God
3) Confession of Trust
5) Words of Assurance
6) Vow to Praise
So that’s enough. I’ll offer below my lament I wrote for this time.
This is my offering — but I offer it in hopes that you’ll see that you don’t have to be good at this to do it! I hope that you’ll try writing your own Lament and voice your complaint — but remind yourself that you really do believe that God will pull you through.
A Lament for Covid-19
Lord, are you there?
Have you seen the world going crazy?
Your people are falling ill,
young and old are suffering.
This virus is spreading the globe,
people in every country are affected.
We’re afraid to touch each other.
We’ve banned hugs and handshakes.
We stay at home and keep our distance.
Even people I pass on the outdoor path draw back.
Businesses are closing;
hairdressers are afraid.
Librarians are too scared to touch books,
and restaurants have become take-out only.
The economy is crashing.
Friends are getting laid off.
Small businesses are failing,
and classes are switching to online learning.
The scariest part is exponential growth.
Our country went from hundreds
to thousands of cases
in less than a week.
Can our hospitals tend
those who need it?
Will we run out of facemasks?
Will we have enough ventilators?
Lord, the future is unknown
and everything we thought was normal has changed.
I do trust you, Lord.
You’ve seen the world through every disaster.
This seems so big,
but you are always bigger.
Can you save mankind from the consequences of our mistakes?
Will you have mercy on us?
You see the individual.
You notice when a sparrow falls.
You see the hourly worker laid off,
And you have compassion for the owner who lost their business.
I wish you were not quite so good
at redeeming bad things,
for then you wouldn’t
let bad things happen.
As it is, we ask for redemption.
We ask for bursts of goodness and grace.
We ask for ingenuity for doctors and scientists,
finding treatment, finding cures,
developing an effective vaccine.
We ask for compassion
in the hearts of caregivers,
that those suffering may know
their pain is seen.
We ask for protection
for those serving on the frontlines,
that the virus will not enter their bodies,
that they will not succumb,
that they will fight on.
We ask for creativity
in the hearts and minds of artists,
that they will lift us above these times,
draw us out from fear.
We ask for community
even as we distance ourselves.
We ask for creative ways
to reach out and tell people we care.
We ask that we will never forget
how richly blessed we are
to have each other,
and what an amazing gift
is the presence of another human being.
Lord, have mercy on this world You’ve created!
Look with compassion on our suffering!
Give humanity the wisdom and resilience
To stop this virus and cut short the harm.
Lord, you’ve said when we walk through the fire,
you will be with us.
We will not be burned,
the flames will not set us ablaze.
When we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death
You are with us.
You comfort us
with your rod and your staff, the signs of your presence.
We don’t know what’s coming,
but you do.
Jesus took on our infirmities
and carried our diseases,
and he never stopped
caring for the ills of the world.
Lord, we will sing for joy
when we meet back together again.
Our hugs will be
strong and invigorating.
We will laugh with joy
when we see friends and family
in person again,
when we feel our loved ones in the flesh.
Thank you for the precious gift of community,
and thank you that we’re learning
Love is stronger than any virus
And community transcends physical distance.