Be Wretched and Mourn and Weep

Let’s not pretend we know how to handle what happened in Las Vegas.

Christians know the answer to these distressing times isn’t to harbor anger, hopelessness, or fear. But, let me just say it, it’s also not the answer to pretend to God we aren’t tempted in these directions.

Of course, we’re angry! Human life is precious. We aren’t targets in a video game. Each of us is known to and loved by someone – God, if no one else.

And, of course, even those of us who know the reason for eternal hope wonder how to press on when we’re barraged by acts of violence.

Fear is here, loved ones. Never mind, the unknown. In our times, there are plenty of known dangers that make us wish we could build a shelter for our loved ones and hunker down until Jesus returns.

 

 

And there’s a quieter fear – a fear that we won’t confess in public and barely dare to acknowledge in the dark, as we turn off the news coverage and switch on a show from the sixties. This personal fear is that we’re becoming numb or hardened or blind or compassion-fatigued, and this doesn’t feel like what Jesus would do. Jesus would care, but sometimes, we. Just. Can’t.

Even when the media put faces to the numbers, interviews their loved ones, tells us their back stories – we can’t find it in ourselves to post another meme telling another city we’re praying. It’s starting to feel like something we just do by the numbers, but we can’t think of anything else, so, there’s that.

This is not a world for the meek (not yet), and Jesus-followers reek of meek.

Here’s the good news: the only ones surprised by our limitations and weaknesses are us. Honestly, we have less perspective on ourselves than we do on God.

My children had a toy poodle years ago. He weighed about eight pounds, soaking wet, but dogs don’t spend much time in mirrors. When a family friend dropped by with his seventy-pound German Shepard, our poodle first tried to scare him off, then attempted to strike up a romance. No idea what the little guy was thinking, but clearly he had no perspective on his own limitations.

We can be a lot like that poodle.

We set out to take on the enemy, believing ourselves capable of building great towers, only to find that half-way through our assault, we’re confused. Too confused to continue because now we’re not sure who is our enemy. We feel like small barking dogs so we run off with our tails between our legs and hide from God, ashamed.

Loved ones, we strive when we should rest. We hide, when we should show ourselves as we are. God knows better than we do that we’re worn out and weary. He’s much less shocked than we at our inability to process mass murder.

And our enemy is full aware that relentless, steady assault is effective at numbing our souls, at wearing our faith down to a nub, at inspiring us to build bunkers that block out God. May we not fall prey to his snare.

It is pride that makes us hide.

But, God has written us the answer in His Word in James where God’s man encourages us to lament.

That’s right. Lament.

God’s people are called, at times, to lament. To express great sorrow. To mourn, weep, wail, cry out in loss or horror or regret.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:7-10 ESV)

Be wretched and mourn and weep. Thus, sayeth the Lord.

We aren’t called to smile all the time. Forget being positive or looking for lessons before the echoes of the gunfire are even through bouncing off our walls. Don’t rush to assurances, platitudes, or bumper sticker grace that tells us this madness was all for a reason, even if it was.

That’s not God’s way. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. To lament is to be like Jesus.

The prophets, the psalmists, the disciples knew the power of the lament. We need to reclaim it in our private and corporate worship.

To lament is not to say we have lost our faith in God. To lament is to say we’ve exhausted our faith in our own ability to cope and we need our God to supply – courage, hope, comfort, wisdom, renewed compassion, and love that survive mass murder.

Only God. Lamenting is a way of saying “Only You God can sort through what has happened and carry us over to the other side.”

Now is the time Western Christians should turn to our brothers and sisters in persecuted countries where there have been so many fewer protections and ask, how? How do we follow Christ now? How do we reach out to others amid uncertainty, violence, and fear? How have you been doing it? How do you worship?

They will tell us, they know the power of lamentation. They will tell us, Our God does provide. They will say, there is a way to love and to remain tuned into humanity without Netflix or TVLand or building bunkers.

There is freedom beyond the search for safety on this side of glory.

There is freedom when we know our God receives our lamentation as readily as He does our praise.

There is freedom in knowing that to embrace our limitations is to acknowledge we are not little gods, for there is only One.

So to lament, to be wretched and mourn and weep, is to testify about Jesus, in these distressing times.

Our enemy wants us afraid of sadness, but we will show him that our God resides in sorrow, too. There is no place we can go, He is not already there. If we cannot lament for the victims, we can lament the loss of our compassion and our ability to feel.

We won’t get lost in our sorrow for we follow Jesus. He will lead us through to the other side because He has been there and back again. 

Get in on the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Thank you so much for this, Lori.

  2. “There is freedom when we know our God receives our lamentation as readily as He does our praise.” Love this! He receives our tears as offering just as much as our praises.
    I think of you as my prophet-friend, Lori–telling us all what’s really real (forthtelling). Thank you for continuing to say what needs to be said.

  3. Edie says:

    Thank you so much for your blog Lori. You always hit the nail right on the head and it’s good to know that as a follower of Christ that I don’t have to know all the answers.

  4. God bless you, Lori. Your natural ability and experience in guiding the broken is meant “for such a time as this.” Thank you for always seeking and sharing truth without the platitudes — rather peeling them away to reveal the hurting places and guiding us to The Healer.

  5. Debra says:

    Thank you for sharing. God has given you a beautiful gift to express thoughts that I don’t even know how to put into words!