“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” -Anne Morrow Lindbergh
ENOUGH! That’s what NBA Coach Steve Kerr, who lost his father to a gun violence incident in Beirut in 1984, said about today’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. You can click above to hear his pointed and impassioned plea to the US Senate to take action. The nation is in shock at the second tragic shooting in a week— the 30th this year at a school. Many of us are asking, “How long?” and “When will we learn?” I’m not sure what is worse, the feeling of anger, or of helplessness to see change. Kerr stated that 90% of Americans on all sides of the political spectrum desire mandatory background checks before someone can access a gun. Seems reasonable doesn’t it? But power, greed, and politics have taken over reason. Now the blood of 18 more children and 4 adults, along with the 10 African Americans shot dead at Tops grocery store last week, and Asian Americans shot in worship a Presbyterian Church cries out to all of us for justice.
One of our issues is that we really don’t know how to (or we choose not to) MOURN– to feel or show deep sorrow, sadness, or regret for (someone or their death). It’s hard to invest the time necessary to really mourn when another thing is happening on the heels of the last tragedy. It’s also difficult in a culture that attempts to get us to suppress our true feelings and “get over it.” Even sometimes in ministry, our discomfort with negative feelings causes us to offer platitudes and cliches that don’t express the depth of feeling and empathy that situations such as these require.
I encourage you to read Jeremiah 9 in its entirety. The prophet opens by crying out, “If only my head were a pool of water and my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night for all my people who have been slaughtered.” (vs. 1-2) The weeping prophet describes a climate similar to what we are facing, “They speak friendly words to their neighbors while scheming in their heart to kill them.” (vs. 8) “Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider and call for the mourning women, That they may come; And send for skillful wailing women, That they may come.” (v.17) The need to mourn was so important God called for the professionals. We can’t receive the comfort Jesus promised in the beatitudes if we never take the time to mourn. We need to offer lament. We need to repent—to act justly. And yes, we still should offer prayers for the families of those whose lives have been snuffed out. Their sorrow and devastation is just beginning.