WS Update: Sitting in the pain

November 15, 2021

Twenty months. The pandemic has lasted much longer than many of us ever anticipated. Such extended weariness does something to you.

When suffering and hardship endure much longer than we expect, we need resources that go deeper. We need ways of coping that go beyond withdrawal and escape, or burying ourselves in busyness, or picking up the latest self-help tool. Lament is the biblical response to a broken world that defies easy answers or quick fixes.

A number of years ago, I was going through some significant upending in my own life and struggling to make sense of the pain and confusion. I was talking to someone who had gone through something similar and whose suffering had clearly left an indelible mark on his life. His advice to me was, “Just sit in it.” Not to jump to the next thing. Not to drown myself in busyness. But to sit in the pain, and to invite God into that space.

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that many of us are not very good at “sitting in the pain”. We want to fix things. We want to stay busy and active. Lament is not an instinct our culture nurtures in us.

We’re also not very good at listening to others’ pain. In a world where everything is now politicized, we’re not able to listen to one another, least of all others’ pain. Instead, it becomes a battle of one view of the world against another. And the cry of pain, instead of being heard, gets lost in a debate.

What happens when such pain goes unheard? It leads to alienation. If the church is not a space for the cry of lament to be heard, people will increasingly turn to other places for meaning, hope, and change. We need to recover the place of lament in biblical faith.

Thankfully, we have a God who knows what it’s like to suffer and who laments with us. May we learn to walk in his steps.

In Christ,

Pastor Paul Yoo

West Side Art Salon

You’re invited to the first West Side Art Salon, where we’ll feature author Elizabeth Passarella and her book Good Apple: Tales of a Southern Evangelical in New YorkOne reviewer offers this praise: “I, a total heathen, love this book. Elizabeth Passarella understands that none of us is as simple as any one of our labels might suggest. Not religious? Not a Southerner or a New Yorker? All the more reason to read Good Apple.”

Copies of the book will be available for sale.

Wine, beer, and light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Learn more about West Side Art Salon and register for the upcoming event here.

Coming up at RWS

  • Check out the next W83 Gallery opening, Nov 17: In this group exhibit, three local artists share the city through their eyes before, during, and after the height of the pandemic. Through their glimpses of everyday moments and scenes sometimes taken for granted, we are invited to see our city as well through new eyes.
  • Attend All-Church Worship Night, Nov 19: As Thanksgiving approaches, we as a church have so much to be grateful for. Join us for an evening a praise and prayer and invite your friends, family and neighbors to this special night of worship.
  • Officer nominations through Dec 10: Please consider those around you would would serve well as members of the Diaconate or as an Elder. We have yet to receive any nominations for these important roles of our church.
  • Celebrate 25 years of His Toy Store: Bring joy to families in need with toys and basic needs. This year, your giving will go toward specific funding for Hope for New York affiliates to create their own Christmas outreaches. Plus, your gift will be doubled by a generous donor.
  • Teach ESL at W83: The Open Door is teaching in-person classes this fall. Volunteers are needed once a week to teach adults on Monday or Tuesday evenings.
  • Become a member of RWS, Dec 5: Our Membership Class helps you learn the gospel theology and ministry of Redeemer West Side. WE cover what’s behind the five membership vows, how a PCA church is led, and how members step into our sacred call to love our neighbors and heal our city.