Embodied Hope Reflective Essay

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What are two things you’ve learned about suffering through this text?

The first thing that I learned is the necessity of lament and its correlation to the good. Through embodied hope I gained insight as to how I have dealt with pain and how culture looks at pain. I have dealt with pain by pushing away friends and family. I have isolated myself and numbed myself from feeling pain. Chapter three of Embodied Hope discusses the need to feel pain and express lament. Kapic says this, “When we express our longing for lasting shalom but also confess its current transitory nature, a compelling story develops, one that makes sense of love and yearning without doing violence to the complexity of the current human condition… Love in this life inevitably involves suffering. Some people, realizing this, harden their hearts or choose some form of self-destruction…Most who truly love others will at some point have their hearts join the chorus of lament in the human drama.”[footnoteRef:1] The cross never promised freedom from suffering; the cross promised redemption from suffering through suffering. In my life I have ran from lament and have missed out on the opportunity to experience genuine love. In the same way the Father gave to us free will to choose Him or not Him so that we can experience genuine love in its greatest form, the Father gives to us the choice to experience the risk involved with letting yourself feel, letting yourself hurt, and letting yourself go to others. Kapic help me see that true love involves lament and ultimately suffering, but it is worth letting yourself be consumed by it, that we might ultimately look to Christ as the container of our hope. [1: Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2017), 29]

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The second thing Kapic showed me is how to face the facts of the world in its current state. Kapic references Stephen Crane who wrote this, “A man said to the universe: ‘Sir, I exist!’ ‘However,’ replied the universe, ‘The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.’”[footnoteRef:2] This cold world described seems to be the reality for all humans alike, Christian or not. The universe is indifferent to our suffering just as it is indifferent to our prosperity. However, our hearts seem to conflict with this, we think we choose hope when we believe in the good in the world. We hate the pain and we long for the shalom. This creates a conflict where we run from one and towards the other. Kapic says this, “We imagine that the heart is a set of scales with pain and suffering on one side and faith and hope on the other.” This differs from the hope and faith we are called to. When hope and faith conflict with pain and suffering we are not placing our hope or faith in Jesus, we are placing it in a delusion that we can exit the room every time pain or suffering enters. What Kapic has taught me is to actually expect a suffering. The coldness of the fallen world is not evidence for the lack of a good God and placing hope in him rather than temporary comfort is freeing. How different would our lives look if instead of dreaming of the perfect spouse, house, and job we expected pain in our life and still choose love. What if we ordered our values correctly, and saw God as the only eternal good we can place our hope in. What if in the midst of a cold world we brought the light with us, the promise of life yet to come. [2: Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2017), 9]

What are three things you appreciated about the way the author approached the topic of suffering?

I deeply appreciate Kapic’s approach to suffering with honesty, with kindness, and as a pastor.

Kapic approaches the problem of pain and suffering with a great deal of honesty, he does not shy away from the magnitude of pain experienced in the world. However, he gives the reader a true call to action in the midst of that pain, using the reality of the pain and suffering in the world as a catalyst for urgency rather than a knife that cuts out hope. In chapter three, my favorite section of the book, Kapic gives the example of parents mourning the loss of multiple miscarriages. Kapic admits to the pain of this reality, but still calls parents to feel, and not rob their hearts from “Joy” or “Hope”. Kapic is honest and not afraid to call us to genuine love even when it is difficult. [footnoteRef:3] [3: Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2017), 29]

I also appreciate Kapic’s Kindness he shows in the book. Kapic continually points back to the truth of the gospel and the kindness of God. Kapic clearly shows that Gods kindness is as real as the pain in the world. Kapic says this, “God can’t taste dust, get sick, or become hungry… out of his love the Father sent his Sin in the Spirit to take on genuine flesh… only as incarnate can God enter the pit of the grave in order to fill it with life.”[footnoteRef:4] Kapic is clear, death has been defeated, and the reality is God has filled the grave with life. Kapic still choses to embrace the believer and rather than point to theodicies. Kapic points to the only true comforter for comfort. [4: Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2017), 97]

Kapic also has a pastoral approach to the book. He helps show the reader how to minister pastoral care rather than philosophical or theological care. In this way he does not belittle pain and suffering but actually gives useful lasting information on how to love others well. One thing Kapic points to is union to Christ about which he says this, “One aspect of our union in Christ is our union with one another… the faith of all strengthens the faith of each. The weakened hope of one receives hope from the ministry of the others. Faith and hope thus receive their essential character, power, and efficacy from the love that unites the whole body”[footnoteRef:5] What I received from this is a practical pastoral approach to pain and suffering. That the same faith and hope that carries us through faithful seasons of pain is the faith and hope that is strengthened by the love unifying the church. That it is much easier to point to faith and hope outside of pain and suffering, but if the church is to be faithful mourners, we must unify in love for one another. [5: Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2017), 131]

What is something from the text that you can incorporate into the way you care for others when it comes to suffering?

I am currently trying to incorporate availability into my interactions with others. I have a cynical mindset when it comes to my interactions with others, and I am trying to offset that by choosing to see the good in people. My mind tends to not care much about other people’s stories or experiences, so I rarely open up about my own. However, I want to be available to those that I love by learning to listen and suffer with others, to value others and have free love to give. “We are called to have compassion, to come alongside others in their pain, and to love them. This is risky. Almost inevitably you will-even if only in some small way- suffer with them. However, in this shared pilgrimage you will also discover afresh the grace and tenderness of God.”[footnoteRef:6] Embodied Hope gave me the desire to strive after the risk involved with compassion, and to be available to freely give that to others. To strive after compassion not in spite of judgement, but despite judgement, to see brokenness and to join with others in the “chorus of lament in the human drama”[footnoteRef:7] [6: Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2017),157] [7: Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2017), 29]


  1. Swank, Garrett. Embodied Hope Reflective Essay. Pine Mountain, GA: Impact 360 Institute, 2018.
  2. Kapic, Kelly, Embodied Hope. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press 2017

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