By Robyn Ross, Originally Published in Texas Monthly
(Editor’s note: Fr. Ray Cook, OMI is one of the Faith Leaders featured in this article)
We asked leaders from across the state and the religious spectrum to share their best words of wisdom.
The crises of 2020 have stacked up: a pandemic, a recession, incidents of police brutality, and heated demonstrations in the streets. In the face of these staggering challenges, it can be hard to muster hope or channel anger into productive activity. The world’s faith traditions speak to that suffering and frustration by helping people find meaning in their pain—and, sometimes, by providing a moral framework for social action. Nine leaders in Texas faith communities offered Texas Monthly their perspectives on this difficult year. Excerpted below are their thoughts about enduring suffering, confronting injustice, and finding hope.
“What might be helpful for people during all this stress and anxiety is the idea of lament. Some of the psalms are labeled ‘psalms of lament,’ and these provide a deep and ancient foundation for prayer during times of trouble and injustice. The psalms are prayers that have been written by people who have gone through terrible suffering, and they bring vocabulary o our lament in a way we might not have thought of otherwise.
“Psalm 22 is one that Christians often cling to because its first verse is quoted by Jesus while he’s on the cross. And it has everything: the problems of poverty, physical affliction, injustice, oppression, and violence. The first line, which is quoted by Jesus, is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ It goes on: ‘Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?’ It’s okay to say that you feel deserted by God. I think some people are afraid of offending God, but God can take it. Even Jesus used this prayer.