Dr. Glenn Pemberton has written a book titled Hurting with God addressing the need for Christians to be honest with God about their pain.
Hurting with God, which was published in June of this year, focuses only on the lament psalms that make up 40 percent of the 150 psalms in the Bible.
“When we look at the book of Psalms, most people think, ‘Oh, it’s about worship and praise,’ and in fact there are more lament psalms in the book of Psalms than any other form,” said Pemberton, former chair of the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry and associate professor of ministry.
Pemberton said he started writing Hurting with God because of his experience in teaching college students about the book of Psalms.
“I’ve taught the book of Psalms to college students for 15 years now and I’ve always noticed how college students respond to the language of lament; that they’ve never seen this before,” said Pemberton. “When I have the students write their own psalms, most of them, every semester, with maybe one exception, most of the students will write a lament because they’ve never heard of the language before and they’re desperate for a language to be able to speak honestly with God about the pain in their own lives.”
While the book is “about teaching the language of this lament as a language of prayer,” Pemberton said Hurting with God is also about his experiences with pain and lament and his learning from the lament psalms.
After Pemberton started writing the book, he had a stress fracture in his left foot in 2006 that took a long time to heal. However, after the fracture healed, the pain didn’t go away and got worse. Pemberton learned that it was related to the nerves in his foot. He endured five surgeries on his foot, dating from 2007 to 2009, which included a neuro-stimulator implant.
All this time, the pain in his foot continued to worsen and began spreading to his right foot.
In early 2011, Pemberton found an out-patient program at the Baylor University Medical Center where he said he spent four weeks doing “physical therapy, counseling, education, water therapy teaching us how to live with pain that’s not going to go away.”
“Because of that, I came back and started to use the tools that I had been taught to help manage the pain that was there,” Pemberton said.
Pemberton rewrote the manuscript for his book and finally finished it in the summer of 2011.
“Going through all the things that I went through and continue to deal with are very difficult on my faith and it’s difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with God when everything around you is falling apart,” Pemberton said. “But what I’ve learned and what the book tries to show people is that for those of us who are in pain, we’re not expected to keep singing all the happy songs that just do not fit where we’re at. There’s another language, in fact, there’s a lot of different languages for people of faith to talk to God.”
Dr. Dana Pemberton, chair of teacher education and Glenn’s wife, gave him early feedback on Hurting with God during his final edits.
“It’s the message of the book that resounds with me. That when people are in pain they need a language to stay in contact with God,” Dana said. “They need to know that those feelings of fear and anger and confusion and even hopelessness are normal. And you can’t hide them from God so why not just talk to him about it and have an honest relationship?”
Glenn said the first chapter of the book can be found through the book’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/HurtingWithGod.