Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“Weep With Me” by Mark Vroegop
Recommendation by Pastor Mat Pau
In a year characterized by difficulty, hardship, suffering and hurt, “Weep With Me” is a timely read – especially regarding the issue of racism. Now wherever you might stand on the topic, ask yourself: “What is your first impulse when someone brings up the topic of systemic racism?” Is your first thought to bring up statistics? Critiquing or defending certain social movements? Or is your first impulse to simply weep with those whose stories take into account the color of their skin?
In Vroegop’s book (in many ways, an expansion and specific application of his original work on lament, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, which was recommended by Pastor Eric Cai on May 4th, 2020) he pastorally and sensitively helps us to consider that while we may come to the issue with differing facts and conclusions, and while the issues are much more complex than we realize, we need to consider that behind the issues are people – people whose lives are profoundly affected by and perhaps even suffer as a result of their skin. We may debate the issues, but the reality is that for some in our lives, this is life for them. And it hurts.
How do we best serve them? By lamenting with them. And how can those who feel the hurt respond? By lament. “It’s the voice of God’s people while living in a broken world. Laments acknowledge the reality of pain while trusting in God’s promises” (37). And while Vroegop humbly admits that lamenting will not solve the issue, it’s a good start to move toward those who feel hurt. Because we’re compassionately empathizing with them. It’s saying, “What matters to me more than anything else in this moment is you. Your story pains me. But more than that, it pains God.” This I believe is Vroegop’s goal: Not to simply wrestle with “white guilt,” but to grow us in compassion for others (32) – regardless of whether or not we can relate – so that we can point them to Christ in the midst of their hurts.
Let me encourage you to read this book as it not only applies to this specific issue covered, but to how we can better love others in this season marked by various difficulties, hardship, suffering, and hurt. I trust it’ll help you to go beyond personal laments, but laments on behalf of others so that we might love them with the love of Christ. But beyond that, this book also seeks to equip those who have been hurt. This recommendation fails to speak adequately to the quality of this work, but I hope these quotes will encourage you where I fall short:
- “When it comes to racial reconciliation, I think we should approach the conversation as we would if a dear friend experienced a deep loss. Our first step should be to sit beside the grieving individual. Love the person. Listen. And lament with him or her” (33).
- “What if lament prayers expressed our solidarity even when we don’t fully understand? Imagine pastoral prayers or a brief lament on social media designed to communicate that we are weeping with those who weep. What if we led with lament even if we are not sure why some are weeping or even if they should be weeping” (83)?
- “Discussion about statistics, social movements like Black Lives Matter, or policing aren’t off the table. But part of the problem is that we often come to the topic of race without empathy. And that’s not just a racial problem. That’s a human problem” (85).
- “Lament is the prayer language when God’s people encounter the brokenness of the world. It’s the biblical way to express sorrow when we don’t know what to say. Lament vocalizes concern when life is hard and uncertain” (101).
- “While we might not even agree on all the facts, we can seek the God of all grace to help us love one another. While solutions are complicated or unclear, lament could acknowledge our collective need for God’s intervention. Surely we can all agree on that” (105)!
- “Lament validates a painful experience without making it your identity” (154).
This is an interesting reexamination of what it means to be a Berean. May it make us zealous to study the Scriptures since we are blessed to have the whole Bible, humbly receive the truth, and grow together as a community of faith.
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What I appreciate most about this article is how saturated it is with Scripture. It reminds us that we stand on God’s truth and our hope lies outside of this world. Some of us might be pleased with the outcome of the election. Others not. But as Christians we find comfort in knowing Christ reigns.
Following our Scripture reading from this past Sunday, we can continue meditating on the wonderful truths found by singing them.
Here’s a collection of songs inspired by C.S. Lewis’s, “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Have a listen with your kids too.
A simple yet clear answer to a common question, Sinclair Ferguson articulates how the fruit of our lives reveal what and who we’re rooted in.