The weariness of terrorism and racism in our news last week can exhaust us. There are times when we truly wonder: How long, O Lord?”
The psalm in my reading this morning gives me a reminder on perspective:
“You love evil more than good; you love lying more than speaking what is right. Selah You love all destructive words; you love the deceiving tongue. But God will take you down permanently; he will snatch you up, tear you out of your tent, and uproot you from the land of the living! Selah”
Lament isn’t always soft… or done in time to get to lunch.
Lament is brutal because the soul has been assaulted. It is a crying out in pain because in that moment… in that time… there is nothing else to do.
Lament is personal. Lament is communal.
America doesn’t do lament. But we need to.
Lament is deep in my soul because “the system” failed the family of Philando Castile this week. Lament is deep because among the friends I have there is a sense of, “Here we go again.” And “reason” doesn’t help. “Statistics” don’t help.
The soul has been assaulted.
Lament needs a space in our community. The hurt needs to fly out of the soul and those nearby need to stand aside and let it happen. Instead… we judge. We judge because we think that’s not what WE would do… or a “civilization” would do.
Black or white, lament needs to fly out of the soul and allow the pain to have a way to exit. And it won’t make sense a lot of the time.
I was with another family this week who suffered the loss of a teenage girl. There were a lot of “F” bombs. A lot of bad theology. And it was loud.
And I wept with them. I sat with them and let the soul cry out.
There are feelings we have in the moment that ultimately may or may not be true… but in that moment have a sense of truth. The soul has been assaulted.
My soul has been assaulted in a tragic loss this week. My soul has been assaulted in a tragic court decision.
And in this moment, I am at a loss to say, “Trust the system.” In this moment… I do not “trust the system.” The system keeps failing minority communities. And, quite honestly, that system may end up failing the very law enforcement community it was designed to try and help.
In this moment I am not going to say, “Now… protest nice, y’all.” Not in this case. Philando Castile was compliant that night… and he is dead. A bad cop (and that doesn’t reflect on the meaning that he can also be a “good person”) was ill-prepared for the job and he is home. And free.
The soul has been assaulted. And lament needs to flow.
For now… let it. There isn’t a “right way” for this to happen.
I don’t write poetry or songs. I can barely write sentences.
But my heart is broken and I need to let loose in a lament. I’m not the psalmist and it isn’t inspired.
The feeling of loss is overwhelming at times. I believe in healing and ask for healing and yet I watch people lose those battles. It isn’t a lack of ultimate faith, or not “rejoicing” that they’ve gone into the presence of Jesus and the pain is no more… I DO “rejoice” in the release of pain.
Yet, I long to see healing. I long to see more miracles. Two college students in the past few months that I’ve known in some way have lost battles. One to brain cancer. Another to heart disease. The last one was sudden and tragic.
People in their 20s… gone. Parents burying their children.
Losses hurt. These are times when I long for the healing power of Jesus to work far more than the “healing” thought of “no more pain.”
I’m tired of praying for headaches to be gone and that might happen… and seeing people lose battles to bigger things. Cancer “winning”… heart disease “winning.” Lack of prayer. Lack of persistence in prayer… Lack of longing for God to move in a more powerful way…
It’s not a doubt of God I have… it’s a wrenching in my heart that cries out when I think, “It just doesn’t have to be this way.” Not ALL the time anyway!
People die. Got that.
People suffer. Got that.
God is sovereign. Got that.
And it still wrenches my heart because all the brain knowledge in the world doesn’t wipe away the emotion of loss. That’s why we have “laments” in the Psalms. And it’s why it hurts today.
4 My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. 5 Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. (Ps. 54:4-5)