God’s Presence in Times of Lament – Gulu Trip – Post #3

It’s Tuesday evening and after a full day of classes, I got in a little basketball before we had a downpour sending us inside. It’s rainy season, things are lush and green and it’s so very good to be with the forty-two trainees who have become friends, and my beloved co-teachers Mike Evans and Stu Dix.

Our curriculum for this round is poetry, focusing on Psalms and Proverbs. We are on our fifth course, with four more courses between now and June of 22, God and Delta (airlines) and delta (variant) all working together just right! Our goal is to help them understand and communicate biblical poetry so they can adequately handle the poetic books such as Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, etc.

Today we finished lesson four, with three of them focusing on psalms of lament. These are poems that express present sorrow and confusion. Over 1/3 of of the 150 psalms are laments, demonstrating that God is comfortable with his people being honest with him in their sorrow and confusion. Some laments speak of God’s deliverance. In discussing laments and deliverance, I asked my group if they had ever known God’s help in a tangible way. One spoke of fleeing Uganda to South Sudan (it was Sudan back then). He remembered all the dead bodies he stepped over in one town as a small child. Another spoke of rebel shooting taking place near their hut and they fled into the bush and got away. A third had the rebels knocking on his door and he remained quiet. They threatened to burn the hut down with him in it (not a rare activity). He remained quiet. Fifteen minutes later he thought he heard them leave. He waited another fifteen and left his home.

Many of my friends have had plenty of opportunity to lament. They have been through much, hoped much and are enduring in faith. They are eager to learn and become more effective in their pastoral duties. None of them were raised in English speaking homes, but here we are giving them college level teaching in what for most is their second language, for a few their fourth. These men are not well resourced, but they are smart. I am honored to walk with them in this season, helping them to handle the word of God more effectively.

One the head injury front (see post #1), today a bare discernible wound on the head and an elbow during basketball that made me wobbly for a moment. But the good news is my team won. There is much more that I will write in the days to come.

The pic is from our porch:

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life