It's been a heartbreaking week in our world. A human tragedy in Orlando, compounded by our own metastasized social and spiritual sickness; our deep brokenness, division, ignorance and fear has been projected to the world and batted about by a billion digital bullhorns, shouting and clawing and tearing at one another. It's all been a bit much to bear, to be honest. 1500 miles away, the temptation is to simply disengage; to hide, to dismiss, to wait until the storm blows over, as it always eventually does for those not touched directly by the loss. Or, if we engage at all, it is a trite, superficial, cut-and-paste affair, instantaneous and painless. At best, a cheap way to defend the assertion of our own status as compassionate human beings, at worst, an outlet for our own insecurities and fruitless rage, broadcast unfiltered to the world and amplified by the tragic electricity of the moment.
All this - be it silence, misdirection or rage - because as a people we have forgotten how to weep. We know how to shout, to posture, to categorize and to hide, but we do not know how to weep. And that fact, on its own, is worthy of inspiring our tears.
Our world is a beautiful, but broken - profoundly and tragically broken - place. Our sin has fractured us in directions and at depths that we simply could not have imagined possible. And, actively sustaining our lives in midst of every horror we call down and inflict upon ourselves, the heart of the Father God lives in tension with a daily grief that is simply incomprehensible to us. To be sure, that grief is held in holy tension with His irrepressible joy, his love, and ultimately overcome in the hope manifest in His victory over darkness and death itself. But, make no mistake, there are tears in the heart of God over this evil inflicted upon more than 50 children whom he knit together in his own image, and whom he loves so profoundly, because God knows how to weep.
We have perhaps no greater picture of this than at the tomb of Lazarus, in John chapter 11. There Jesus stands, faced with the death of one whom he dearly loved, and surrounded by the cries of others he dearly loved, stricken with grief and loss. The authority of earth and heaven resting upon his shoulders, and certain of the victory he would claim over death in short order, there was yet no smugness in Jesus' demeanor. No preemptive triumphalism. No dismissive annoyance at the cries and the clamor. Rather, the response of Jesus was startlingly human; more human, perhaps, than you and I have ever truly been. Faced with death and loss and pain, John recalls for us, "Jesus WEPT."
Before he speaks, he weeps. And when he does speak, it is to call forth life from the grave; pressing back the darkness and rebuking death itself. Faced with tragedy and violence and the utter senselessness of sin, more often than not, we simply don't know what to say. Perhaps, just perhaps, we find we have no authority to speak because we have not the hearts to weep. And perhaps, as nonsensical as it may seem to us in our instantaneous, social media age, those who cannot weep simply OUGHT NOT speak. Because responding to tragedy with speech devoid of tears is simply to compound ignorance and cruelty.
In the wake of the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States, our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ+ community, and our brothers and sisters in the Latino community, need our tears this week. Before our politics, our theology, our fears, our opinions or our words, they need our tears. The tears of the faithful are liquid prayers; they draw us into the presence of God, bare our hearts before him, and leave us changed. Without tears, we simply cannot see the world in the manner that God sees it, and thus we will have no good word, and no authority, to speak into it. If we are to ever find our voice, we must first find ourselves capable of tears. With Jesus, we must weep.
For this reason we pray: May the Spirit of God, in whom is every good gift, teach us to weep well.
Blessings, with Tears,