From my study Bible, “The Life with God Bible”: "After our great national trauma on September 11, 2001, when the towers fell, so many died, and the goodness of the future was called into question, many Christian communities, in their hurt, horror, and despair, turned for solace and guidance to an ancient and rather obscure book of the Bible – Lamentations. In this book we journey into the dark, dusty, despairing corners of human hearts, into those times in our collective experience that we would rather forget or avoid. Yet as people of faith we believe that our God gives us the resources to help us refrain from avoiding or denying the pain and tragedy. We can grieve, cry out, clench our fists, and ask God why under the conviction that our God cares for us and loves us enough to speak to us, even in tragedy. How is it possible for people like us – so skilled in putting a happy face on even the worst of circumstances, so desirous of cheap consolation—to stare tragedy in the face and to tell the truth about it? It is because Christians believe that, on the cross, Jesus gave a powerful answer to the questions raised by this book of the Bible. In the midst of the most desperate lamentation, mourning the worst tragedies, our God is there, with us.

Israel was known for its psalms of lament –those poetic complaints that are honestly laid before God. Israel loved God enough, felt close enough to God, to be able, in times of tragedy, to clench its fists and cry out to God, to complain, to accuse, and to weep. Some may believe that, as Christians, we must always feel joy, must always have smiles on our faces. Lamentations, however, is the literature of those who have a much deeper, more honest experience of our relationship with God. Its laments know that there is no way always to be happy and joyful. To say to contemporary believers, “If you have faith, you will always be filled with joy and delight,” is to place an intolerable burden on them. This life is too full of heartache for us to expect to somehow bypass genuine grief. Either we are in grief over our own losses or, loving our neighbor as ourselves, we feel grief at our neighbor’s loss.”  (Read Lamentations, it’s a short book in the Old Testament.)

We are in grief. I try to put myself in the shoes of those personally suffering these losses in our country and in places around the world. But it is hard. I am privileged. I don’t know what it feels like. And it feels like I am part of the problem because of my privilege. There are problems that won’t be easily solved. I don’t want to cry and pray and move on. I want to cry and mourn and pray and cry and mourn and pray some more. I don’t want to get over it. I want to listen more than I talk because I don’t know what it’s like.  I want to be a light in the darkness – not a shiny, loud firework light – but a small, persistent, yet flickering light. Lord have mercy.

We’ll be looking for you tomorrow at 9:00 or 10:30 a.m. as we gather to mourn, to take courage and worship our God, who is there with us.

Grace be with you,


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