St. Olaf College | The Lutheran Center

Lamentations in the Night

Following the horrific shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX on May 24, Church Anew invited blog contributors to wrestle with the continuing epidemic of mass shootings in America. With inspiration from the biblical book of Lamentations, Program Director for Congregational Thriving, Rev. Dr. Char Rachuy Cox, shared her own lamentations and reflections that give name to pain and suffering and also stir us to hope.
Photo by Jose Alonso on Unsplash

Like many of you,
I found myself unable to sleep last night.
My heart literally ached within my chest.
My thoughts could not be stilled.
The images in my mind’s eye
Played like an unending,
Ever-expanding reel –
On repeat.
The news images from Uvalde
Intermingled in my memory
With those of Buffalo
And Parkland
And George Floyd
And Mother Emanuel
And Sandy Hook
And Breonna Taylor
And San Bernardino
And Aurora
And Ahmaud Arbery
And on, and on and on …
An idolatrous love of violence
That invades
And pervades
And degrades.

In the deep of the night,
I recalled another time of
And violence
And loss –
That time it was poignant and personal –
Painful in its particularity –
Holding my dearest friend in my arms
As the sobs rose from within her
Like bitter incense
When her son was murdered by police –
And last night,
In remembering that night –
I felt again her sorrow,
And I wondered who was holding
The parents of murdered children
Amid the strangling sobs of this night.

I found myself hoping –
And wanting to trust –
But not completely believing that it was so –
Hoping –
That the Spirit was indeed interceding
And pleading
Amid the bleeding
And the grieving
But wondering –
Wondering –
If perhaps,
Amid our own collective, cultural obstinance
That the Spirit has taken a sabbatical,
Turned God’s back –
And left us to live with –
And continue to die with –
Our choices,
Our idolatry,
And our inaction.

But then,
I believe –
(statement of faith) –
That the Spirit whose presence –
And providence –
I was questioning,
Prompted me to turn
To the only place within our Sacred text
That my heart –
In the deepness of the night,
In the depth of despair –
Was open to both
Voicing and hearing,
Uttering and understanding –

While I know that these words
First arose from a past-tense-time
And amid a past-tense
Profound circumstance
And need –
They both spoke to me
And for me –
Amid this present-tense sorrow.

How lonely sits the city…
She weeps bitterly in the night,
with tears on her cheeks….
When her people fell into the hand of the foe,
and there was no one to help her,
the foe looked on mocking
over her downfall….
O Lord, look at my affliction,
for the enemy has triumphed….
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
My children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed.

On and on I read,
And as I read,
My tears
And my anger
And my sorrow
And my helplessness
Mingled with the generations
Upon generations
Of voices
that rise in lamentation
and supplication
amid that which is beyond
beyond control,
beyond consolation.

And as I found
Not necessarily comfort –
But shadows on the edges of solidarity –
In the echoes of these ancient words,
I came once again
And anew
Upon an assurance that
Has sustained me at other times
Of confusion,
And disbelief:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness….
Therefore I will hope.

God is faithful;
Therefore, I will hope.

I will hope in the comfort of God
For all who grieve.

I will hope in the strength of God
For all who suffer.

I will hope in the restoring power of God
For all who are despairing.

And I will hope for the people of God
To take up space on this earth
That does not destroy,
But that gives life.

I will hope that the fire of the Spirit
Will fall again from heaven –
Fill us,
Move us to repentance,
Stir us from our complacency,
Blow through us
On the rush of a mighty wind –
And provoke us to act.

I will hope that prayers will rise up
In an embodied defiance
Of words-become-deeds
That value life more than weapons of war.

I will hope that God –
The Author and Giver of Life –
Will compel in us
A will
And a resolve
To cast out
Faux outrage
And cast off
Fear –

So that
Hope becomes more than wish.
Peace becomes more than a possibility.
And life abundant edges out
A resignation that
The way things are
Is the way things have to be.

Because we do
Trust and believe
(statement of faith)
That Jesus does make all things new.
God is faithful;
I will hope.

Used with permission. Originally posted on Church Anew, a ministry of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, MN.