We can lament only so much. My heart has broken in more places than I thought possible. My compassion is not unlimited. Our capacity for sympathy and empathy is constrained by our finitude and fallenness. We may be prone to “compassion fatigue” and be sucked into the dark waters of despair. By casting our lament membrane over too many souls—on Facebook or otherwise—we may feel the shredding of our sanity. Paul must have felt this way when he spoke of Epaphroditus’s illness. “But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow” (Phil. 2:27).
Learning a Lamentable Skill
As a philosopher of technology and as a suffering soul, I am learning the hard-won skills of suffering well in cyberspace. These are lessons I never wanted to learn, but lessons I cannot now escape, since a significant part of my ministry is to engage people in the digital world and I cannot deny the hard path God has put my wife and me on. Perhaps these reflections can equip us to both understand the nature of cyberspace and to heed the call to suffer well. If not, I will offer another lament—perhaps on Facebook.
Douglas R. Groothuis is professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary. He is the author of Walking through Twilight: A Wife's Illness, a Philosopher's Lament (InterVarsity Press), publishing November 2017.