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The Prayer of a Righteous Man

Today's blog is taken from Lament for a Son by Nick Wolterstorff, a "well-known Christian philosopher, Nicholas Wolterstorff has authored many books that have contributed significantly to scholarship in several subjects. In Lament for a Son he writes not as a scholar but as a loving father grieving the loss of his son." Nick Wolterstorff's 25-year-old son Eric was killed in a mountain-climbing accident.

Lament and Faith

by Nick Wolterstorff

Faith endures, but my address to God is uncomfortably, perplexingly, altered. It's off-target, qualified. I want to ask for Eric back. But I can't. So I aim around the bull's-eye. I want to ask that God protect the members of my family. But I asked that for Eric.

I must explore The Lament as a mode for my address to God. Psalm 42 is a lament in the context of a faith that endures. Lament and trust are in tension, like wood and string in bow.

My tears have been my food day and night,

says the songwriter. I remember, he says, how it was when joy was still my lot,

how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.

Now it's different. I am downcast, disturbed. Yet I find that faith is not dead. So I say to myself,

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God

But then my grief returns and again I lament, to God my Rock:

Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?

Again faith replies:

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Back and forth, lament and faith, faith and lament, each fastened to the other. A bruised faith, a longing faith, a faith emptied of nearness:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. When can I go and meet with God?

Yet in the distance of endurance I join the song:

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me-- a prayer to the God of my life.

We have an upcoming Afternoon of Reflection & Remembrance (free) in Los Altos, CA, on January 28th, a Mother's Love & Loss Retreat in Tucson, AZ, on February 1st, and another Mother's Love & Loss Retreat in Los Altos, CA, on April 4th.

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Thank you Mavis. This resonates with me too!


I have read and love this book. Thanks for this, I have and continue to feel this same back and forth in my head.

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