The shootings this weekend caught me flat footed. I went to bed sadden by the loss of life in El Paso and woke up to what I thought was a typo. Another shooting? Within 24hrs? It felt like the second plane hitting the Twin Towers. If felt like terrorism.
What followed was the predictable script. Ample news coverage to boost ratings, sympathetic posts on Facebook, click bait, the misguided attempt to soften the blow by turning it political. My heart grew numb. Or is it callous? I can’t decide.
I don’t have any answers. I don’t even know what the question is. Why did this happen? Because people are mean and hurting. Would banning guns have stopped this? If there were no guns, there could be no shootings. But hatred and violence always finds a way. Where was God in the violence? Weeping with the broken as He always does. Why didn’t he stop it? IDK.
I’m not writing this because I have answers. I writing to invite us all into lament, the ancient practice of grief.
In moments of tragedy, our instinct is to always grasp for power. Gun sells will inevitably go up. People from ever political persuasion will claim moral high ground. We’ll all offer overly simplistic solutions as an act of denial about the pain we’re in. But power makes a poor comforter. And the more we grab for it, the poorer our souls become.
My soul needs to weep, wail and cry out.
God needs to hear that this is unfair and that I’m scared.
We don’t need answers, we need tears.
We need to lament. Listen to words of Jeremiah, as he watched his country be destroyed by the very thing he spent his life warning them about.
“See, Lord, for I am in distress. My spirit is tormented from the inside out. My heart is broken and turned upside down. Because I have been rebellious. In the streets the sword kills and in the house there is only death. People hear my groaning, but there is no one to comfort me.” Lamentations 1:20-21
Later he calls on others to cry out:
“‘Cry aloud at night…pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands for the lives of your starving children.’ See, Lord, and look!”
This isn’t the only place lament happens in the Bible. David laments, Elijah laments, even Jesus laments. It’s a natural part of faith. It’s a natural part of being human.
So maybe, instead of offering simple solutions or blaming another political group. Or worse deadening our hearts – maybe we just need to sit and be silent. Or find a quiet place and tell God just how disappointed we are. Or a grab a moment with a friend and let them know we’re hurting and we’re scared.
Our souls will thank us.