So much death. So much hurt. We look around now, and it’s all we see.
State-sponsored executions, with more to come. Mass shootings. A plane crash in Afghanistan.
It’s hard to come away from this with any feelings of hope. It’s hard to come away from this singing joyfully of the love and peace of God. The pain felt by our country and our world makes it difficult to feel any joy. The only emotions to come naturally are anger and sadness, even toward God.
And that’s ok.
Sometimes we need to be angry, and now is one of those times. The words of the Psalms, particularly 22 and 137, come to mind in times such as these. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?” We cry out, for Kelly Gissendaner, for Richard Glossip, for the students of Umpqua Community College, for the eleven people who died in a plane crash in Afghanistan. And yet, we see no answers, we “find no rest.”
We’re driven to anger and frustration. At our wits’ end, we shake our fists at our enemies, standing on a hill and crying out toward the heavens, “HAPPY SHALL THEY BE WHO PAY YOU BACK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO US! HAPPY SHALL THEY BE WHO TAKE YOUR LITTLE ONES AND DASH THEM AGAINST THE ROCK!” As the words fade away into an overwhelming silence, we stand there in the recognition that such revenge would never come, certainly not at our hands, and would bring no peace when it did.
The words seem so foreign coming to our lips in a prayer, we’ve become so used to praying in joy and thankfulness. We put on a façade of joy to hide the anguish in our hearts. But God knows, and God can handle it. The God who created the heavens and earth, the God who created humankind in the divine image, can handle it. The God whose forgiveness, grace, and love know no bounds, can handle it. When the pains of this world reach such an extent, to who could we possibly turn besides God? Who could possibly handle the rage kindled by the sight of constant death and suffering?
We have an example for this in the Psalms, from a people in exile undergoing incredible suffering. They praised their God, but they also were unafraid to let their sufferings be known. We’ve forgotten how to do that.
“O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!”
O Lord, hear our prayers.