A Prayer for Martin Cobb and Nigerian School Girls

A Prayer for Martin Cobb, His Sister, All Who Love Them, and for the Abducted School Girls in Nigeria

“Richmond, Va. — The family of an 8-year-old boy beaten to death as he tried to defend his 12-year-old sister from a brutal rape gathered outside their home Friday, grappling with the details of the vicious attack. They leaned on one another, crying, shaking and struggling to understand the loss of little Martin Cobb” (nbcnews.com).

Dear God:

Behind my eyes and in my throat and chest: I can’t decide if it’s a roar or a sob. Maybe both.

I believe what your servant Paul wrote centuries ago about “bear[ing] one another’s burdens,” but I’m not sure how much longer I can comply. Tired, Lord, so tired. But don’t worry. I’m not giving up, not about to fall on a sword. The problem is, my spirit can’t catch its breath. Where does ferocious evil come from? Why won’t it stop crushing your children?

I don’t mean your children poetically. I’m talking about your literal children. You know what happened days ago in Nigeria, so I say this not for you, but for those who pray with me:

A “tragedy is unfolding in Nigeria, where members of the ultra-radical Islamist group Boko Haram grabbed . . . [school] girls, most believed to be between 16 and 18, from their dormitories in the middle of the night in mid-April and took them deep into the jungle. A few dozen of the students managed to escape and tell their story. The others have vanished. (Roughly 200 girls remain missing.) The latest reports from people living in the forest say Boko Haram fighters are sharing the girls, conducting mass marriages, selling them each for $12.”


Don’t you care? Where is my daughter? (Credit: the guardian.com)

Your creation is kind of strolling along like this is no big deal. Hear my blasphemous prayer: “God damn it! God damn it! God damn it!” As you can see, I’ve no idea what to do with your priceless girls being shared and/or sold for the price of bottle of wine, so my soul sits in ancient Jerusalem’s town dump under a cross, with blood staining my trousers. Sometimes the only sane response is rage.

Of course, I’m actually drinking beer at my dining room table and feeling guilty. A restaurant messed up my order this afternoon, and I was pissed. I’m still pissed, but it wasn’t until that I sat down here and learned the news of Martin Cobb that my vision cleared. Forgive my pettiness.

Martin. My God, my God! And his sister and mother and loved ones. Just playing by the railroad tracks, Lord—a sister and brother who loved each other. The news doesn’t say whether Martin’s sister got raped, but it sounds like maybe not. I’m grateful for that, but not for the brick that smashed Martin’s head. They didn’t even have to take him to the hospital.

So, God I love, what should I pray for? Take machetes and bricks out of the world? Bring all people to their senses? Protect the vulnerable? Obviously you and prayer don’t work that way. I still love you, but I sure don’t understand.

I would like to ask that the ultra-radical Islamists’ penises catch fire, that Martin Cobb’s killer / sister’s assailant get ripped up in jail. But that’s the reptile in me praying. Rapists and murderers are your children, too—the subject for another prayer.

For your Nigerian girls who are now getting married or shared in the jungle: if nothing else, give them a sign. Something! Let them know that they are your beloved, that not everybody in the world has forgotten them.

For Martin Cobb’s sister: let it all be a blur; let her eyes have been turned away from her brother’s end; let her body and soul be well in time.

For Martin: you caught in your hand of grace the brick that smashed his skull, right? He felt nothing, right? He rests now in your lap of pure mercy, right?


Martin Cobb: “A flight of angels sing thee to thy rest.” (Credit: nbcnews.com)

For Martin’s mother and loved ones: shit, how can they continue? Martin must have been really something. Give them what they need to remember him with joy.

It’s time to close, Lord. The beer is gone, and I’m sipping an affordable red Zinfandel. Your creation is shredding itself bloody. I trust you, but just don’t know what to think anymore.


11 thoughts on “A Prayer for Martin Cobb and Nigerian School Girls

  1. Damn it, John: Just when I think I’m OK thinking my job is dangerous and it sucks, you give me this and now I’m sorry I ever spoke it out loud. Anyway, I also hope He remembers to ease your heart as well.

    • Yeah, damn it is right. What a bummer that post was! Something about Martin’s story just sent me into a rage that resulted in writing convulsions. Thanks for enduring it. John

  2. John, I had heard about the Nigerian girls but not about Martin Cobb. The news makes me feel like I want to get off the road of life so that I don’t need to share it with creatures like this. I want to push it all away from me so that my anger doesn’t consume me. I want to go and sit in a nice garden and pretend that God’s creation is good. I can’t pray, but maybe my response itself is the prayer that my God needs to hear from me. I hope so, because He isn’t going to hear much else from me that is articulate. The beer and Zinfandel won’t help of course, but what the hell. Anything that dulls the anger is good for a try. Have one or two for me.

    • Yessir, the only thing the beer and Zin did was give me a headache today. Fortunately, a good, hour-long prayer sit this morning leveled me out. Gosh, was I mad last night. Whew! Peace, John

    • Yeah, it’s really too much to bear, especially when it seems like those Nigerian girls aren’t on the world’s radar. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t sense the sort of breathless urgency on the news that other stories get. Peace (anyway), John

  3. …neither do I ! But I do know this: I despise myself when I too become petty! I whisper to myself “here today and gone tomorrow” all the time! We take so much for granted here in the US in comparison to other countries. As for Martin, he had a conscience, was able to love and be so unselfish! This is exactly what is lacking in so many children and adults that commit such heinous crimes! Many of them were never cared for or loved by their parents or caregivers! Begat, begat, begat…..

    • Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts. I often feel like a spoiled brat compared with the rest of the world. I have to decide what not to eat for dinner rather than wondering where the food will come from. Peace and best, John

  4. This is why I don’t watch the news.
    But you should know what’s happening in the world!
    But it’s such major depressing shit.
    Well, how would you feel if you were living in Nigeria?
    So this is why I don’t watch the news.

    • Precisely! This is a tension I usually manage fairly well, but, damn, that day’s news was a perfect storm. Ugh.

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