2020–and all it has brought with it–has been the most difficult and challenging time of my life. I find myself trying to figure out how to parent two small children, maintain my full-time teaching position at Clemson University, and continue on my seminary journey. Our family has experienced loss in several profound ways: job, preschool, public school, and the loss of gathering together with the body of Christ in person. To say that the last several months have been hard is an understatement. In addition to navigating a global pandemic, our country is being forced–in some ways against its will–to acknowledge the systemic racism embedded in the fabric of our nation and begin the long, hard work of reconciliation. Joy and peace are in short supply right now.
My courses at Central have been a bright spot in this long night. Throughout my first year at CBTS and into my second year, I have developed a deep fascination with the Bible and studying it through various lenses including literary, historical, and cultural. I find myself drawn to the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament), particularly to the prophets, Lamentations, and the Psalms. This last term in Dr. Heidi Baxter’s Hebrew Bible II course, we studied Psalms and the Song of Songs. The Psalms can be divided into roughly 7 categories and the largest category is the psalms of “complaint,” both communal and individual. If ever there was a fitting time for communal complaint, it is now! The editors of the NRSV titled Psalm 6 a Prayer for Recovery from Grave Illness. The Common English Bible translates verses 2 and 3 of the 6th Psalm this way:
2 Have mercy on me, Lord,
because I’m frail.
Heal me, Lord,
because my bones are shaking in terror!
3 My whole body is completely terrified!
But you, Lord! How long will this last?
These words attributed to King David could just as well have been written today because they so aptly apply. I am daily lamenting and asking God how long this will last. It seems like suffering and waiting and hoping for deliverance is a very human condition that has not changed for thousands of years. As hopeful future clergy, this pandemic and social upheaval is preparing us for ministry in ways that academic study alone can’t. Although it doesn’t feel like a positive experience presently, I am convinced that the heartache and struggle seminarians are enduring right now will make us keenly aware of life’s uncertainty, of human suffering, and of the interconnectedness of all God’s creation. We will be better for it.
While we wait, His peace to you.