Jesus wept. He wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. He wept at the attitudes of the people around him. He cried out from the cross, too. One theologian, William Stacey Johnson, links the cry from the cross to all the other cries in Jesus' life, and our cries, too.
Both the borning cry or earliest cry of Jesus and the cry he uttered in death were uttered in solidarity with the cries of many others that accompanied him on his earthly journey—the cry of Rachel weeping for the slaughtered innocents (Matthew 2:16-18), the cry of John the Baptist preparing the way in the wilderness (Matt 3:1-6), the cries of the Jerusalem crowd hailing him as king. . . even the cries of the demon-possessed and the angry mob shouting, “Crucify him!"
This Wednesday morning, as parents dropped their kids off at school, tears were shed. This Wednesday morning, as families awoke, cries arose as more than twenty beds, once warm with life, were empty and cold. Just before I left the church Tuesday evening, when I saw the news flash across the phone announcing the tragedy at Robb Elementary School, that familiar sinking feeling in my chest pervaded my body as I trundled home. I thought about Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I have a five-year-old and an eight-year-old. I loved my elementary school teachers and they love theirs. . . and then, as if a switch flipped, I realized could only go so far down that path—my own sense of terror prevented me from going further as tears welled up in my eyes and a knot formed at my throat.
Thoughts of the Buffalo Supermarket shooting, the Taiwanese Presbyterian church shooting, the Municipal Building shooting in Virginia Beach three years ago, the little church in Texas, the Mother Emmanuel shooting in Charleston - each new event an opportunity for old wounds to be opened again. Each new event, an opportunity for weeping.
Lament can be unpopular in these modern times. We resist lament because it doesn’t fit our news cycle; it doesn’t fit the story of forced positivity. Words of lament in scripture are described as angry, grief-laden complaints that form a protest to God. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,” Jesus cried from the cross. In quoting Psalm 22, Jesus' cry is linked to a tradition of lament—crying out to God, demanding vindication, acknowledging grief and anger, but ending in a place of greater trust and confidence in God’s presence.
We lament the shooting at Robb Elementary School. We hear the cries of our neighbors. So does God.
In your grief and sorrow, find comfort and community in these psalms of lament: 13, 44, 74,79, 80, and 83. (www.biblegateway.com)