Though the darkness hide Thee

In doing a basic search for a picture of a closed tomb, I find far more pictures of open tombs… the stone rolled away.

We don’t like the feeling of Good Friday. Somehow, we want some glimmer of hope. Thankfully, we know the end of the story! But on Friday… this day… we need to feel the loss. 

Resurrection means nothing until you’ve stood at the grave. Not an open grave with nothing in it. Not a tomb with the stone rolled away.

The tomb has the body. The stone is over the entrance. All you had hoped for is completely gone. We need to feel the loss. 

The heavier the loss, the sweeter the victory.

The deeper the darkness, the brighter the light.

When you stand at the occupied tomb, you understand resurrection.

Part of the “practice of resurrection” is to understand a sealed tomb.

38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-40)

Lord, too often I want the shout of victory without the battle of suffering. I want to feel victory without tasting defeat. That is not your way. Your way leads us past this graveyard. Your way calls us to feel the loss so we may more fully understand the victory. I stand at this tomb today… lost. I leave Good Friday service tonight with a sense of not knowing. Let my soul wait. Let my soul HOPE. There is a deep darkness before the hope of dawn… and I choose to wait… longing for something more. 

 

Let us weep and mourn

This is what the Lord says:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.” (Jer. 31:15)

We are not good at grieving

Probably over time we will learn more about what caused Jovan Belcher to turn to killing his girlfriend, then driving to the Chiefs training facility and taking his own life.

What puzzles me is the decision for the Chiefs to go on with the game tomorrow. The players apparently want to play. I can understand that to a point. However, what it shows, in my opinion, is our inability to deal with grief. Instead of stopping to process to what happened to a teammate, the opposite thing happened. It is the American thing. We don’t know what to do, so we decide to work.

Somehow, we think it “honors” those have died. We need to stop. We need to grieve. We need to mourn. Our souls hurt. Football… or work… just doesn’t matter. Couldn’t we have the courage to say, “Look… for this day… football just isn’t it. I need to stop and mourn the death of my friend.”

But we work. We “soldier on.”

I just wish we were better at grieving.

Jovan Belcher

Remembering and Mourning

Today is the 11th anniversary of 9/11. It was actually a Tuesday when the attacks happened.

I was reflecting with one of my classes last week about things like 9/11. One thought struck me during that discussion is built on a conviction I’ve had for quite some time about 9/11.

We haven’t properly mourned 9/11.

In personal tragedy, if someone doesn’t really mourn a loss, if they don’t take the time to grieve, “issues” pop up later. Until there is real grief, sorrow, a letting out of emotions, we find ourselves struggling with raw emotions. Those emotions will surface at the oddest times and we will wonder where that came from!

I think this may be true on a national level. We had memorials and services, but I think our national emotions are still raw. We’ve divided, so that if people get upset with a mosque being built near Ground Zero, we chalk it up to “crazy conservatives.” If someone else has an opposite reaction to something else tied to 9/11, we lash out and say, “Weak liberal.”

It exposes raw emotion. I think it’s because we haven’t really mourned this day and this loss. We still search for the “why” in some way, but that search for “why” isn’t the answer to our grief. Bin Laden being dead isn’t the end of our grief. Hussein’s death doesn’t resolve grief. Revenge doesn’t resolve grief.

The first few weeks after 9/11 I remember people talking about re-evaluating what they do. One “gossip columnist” I heard on MPR spoke about the shallowness of her job. There was a sense of reality. A chance to grieve.

Then, we were told the most patriotic thing we could do was get back to shopping. We’re consumers. Go consume. Show those terrorists they didn’t win!

We went to war, we went to the mall, and we tore into each other. We blamed George Bush. We blamed liberals. We blamed France. We blamed anyone we could find for what was wrong in our world. And we’re still blaming. We still have raw emotions over all kinds of things not even related to 9/11… and it just may be because we haven’t really let out the emotions we truly feel from this day.

Then again, I could be all washed up on this one.

Today… I remember.

The Hole in Our Hearts

As I understand it, C.S. Lewis wrote A Grief Observed anonymously after his wife died of cancer. It was only years later that his name was attached to the lament that he penned in his wrestling with God.

Four years ago I could have done something like that… Well, not like that, because Lewis could actually write. But, our church had suffered a horrendous loss and I must confess that to this day I still have very raw conversations with God about it.

I can add one to the list. A kid right on our block, a kid we watched grow up, was killed last week. An accident. But, at 15, he is gone. And there is a hole in our hearts. Hundreds of kids from the high school mourn. The people on our block mourn. Our family mourns.

We know the hope of the resurrection. We know the hope of abiding in Christ… we know all those answers. But, as Lewis learned, it doesn’t lessen the deep pain we feel in the moment.

As I walked around the funeral chapel looking at the pictures of a great young man, the thought in my heart was, “There isn’t anything right about this.”

In the movie Shadowlands, Anthony Hopkins playing Lewis said, “It’s just a bloody mess and that’s all there is to it.”

And I agree tonight. Right now.

 If only you would tear open 
the heavens and come down!  (Isa. 64:1, CEB)