This Friday, just two days from now, we “celebrate” the anniversary of the most mournful day in human history. The Apostle John says to the seven churches in Asia at the beginning of his recorded Revelation, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.” (Rev.1:7 – NASB) But this morning I wonder if we are capable of mourning.
My feed reader this AM had a little over 400 stories in it. As I scanned the headlines only two – 2 – mentioned Belgium or Brussels and one of those was in the context of what the candidates should “learn” from what happened yesterday. The Cruz victory in Utah was massive. The Bush endorsement of Cruz is very, very newsworthy. But there are over 30 people dead in Brussels and hundreds injured, and I can’t get it out of my mind. I wonder if the media have any concept of mourning whatsoever. One of the stories I saw this morning was starting to examine the victims of yesterday’s attacks, but it was just one and it was not getting much traffic. I’ve read stories on the policy implications of yesterday on everything from currency valuations to the Brexit. I have read all sorts of stories about the attackers, actually more speculation than story, but regardless. But what about the survivors? There the real pain lies. The dead feel no pain, but those close to them feel so much.
In my own, personal Bible study group last night we failed to pray for Brussels! Of this I am ashamed.
We are afraid to face the pain and so we turn to, well, just about anything else.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
To receive God’s comfort, we must first face our very real pain.
To fix a problem we must first admit there is one.
Mourning is not a negative emotion to be avoided, it is a signpost towards the light.
The evening of September 11, 2001 I attended a community prayer service. Five or six pastors from a variety of backgrounds and affiliations lead us. Some hit the mark and some did not. One in particular I remember seemed to miss the target completely. His text was Deut. 32:35, we all know it, “Vengeance is Mine….” The pastor was cautioning the angry crowd against retributive killing. That message was not off the mark theologically, he just failed to find the mood of the people in front of him. We were not at that point thinking of retribution, we were simply mourning.
There were a lot of people in the country thinking of retribution that night (there just were not any in that particular crowd) and I would imagine there are a significant number of people thinking about it this morning after a day like yesterday. I am told by psychologists that the anger that leads to the retributive impulse is really a desire to hide from the pain of mourning. That makes sense to me, I have seen the evidence in my own anger. We need to mourn.
Part of mourning is looking at the situation honestly, facing it square. When we have done that, when we have mourned, we can make good decisions about how to respond because we have taken the time to salve our emotions and engage our reason. The situation in the world requires response on many fronts. We have to defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, Iran and every other source of terror in our world. Some of the fronts will be economic, some diplomatic and some military. Some of the battles will be religious and cultural. We need our reason, not our anger, to decide which lever to pull in what area and how hard.
Please mourn with me the morning. We owe that to ourselves, to the world, and to our God.