Last year I read Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering by Kelly M. Kapic and found it to be both wonderfully comforting and theologically challenging. Little did I know how much the words of this book would come to be so relevant in our global lives. The topic of pain and suffering in light of Jesus’ own embodied suffering is always one that we should consider, but Kapic’s words take on fresh meaning in the light of COVID-19.
Early in the book he writes, “Rightly understood, doing theology is more like farming than it is stacking doctrinal bricks. Theology is lived; it is not regimentally constructed. Like a gardener studying the soil over many years and watching the clouds in the sky each day, the Christian seeks to develop wise theological instincts so they may be able to know when to plant, when to uproot, when to water, and when to rest. Cultivating applied theological instincts is therefore inevitably a bit messy. You have to get your hands in the mud” (page 24).
Writing with pastoral sensitivity, Kapic explores the questions of: “How should we live in the midst of this pain-soaked world?” and “How do we relate to the God whose world this is?” (page 8) No matter how we who are Christians wrestle with the current pandemic and its global ramifications, we know that things will get messy; we will “get our hands in the mud” as we seek to serve the world in this time of crisis. Kapic’s voice is one that brings a much-needed perspective to the topic of pain, suffering, and our response.