Some days that is all there is to do. By the end of the day yesterday, all I could do was lament.
Lamentation means “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping.”
It’s also a book of the Bible – “a book of the Bible telling of the desolation of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.”
I took both of these descriptions from Google.
Over the course of the day I heard many things that made me lament. I heard about a study of people who struggle economically – making up a significant percentage of our American population.
I had a conversation with someone who had been spiritually abused by Evangelical/Fundamentalist theology and churches. And unfortunately, this story is not unique.
I listened to a women experiencing homelessness lament about her situation saying “every time I get a break, I get sucked back down. I’m at my wits end.”
I listened to another individual and the pain they experience and not knowing what to do.
I heard about a man who spent all his money on his bills and had nothing left for the remainder of the month. It’s only December 6.
I heard about a man who’s work hours keeps getting cut back. He’s already homeless and with this cut, he doesn’t know where he will get food.
I read an article about the next pick by this Administration of the person to “lead” effort to combat homelessness. It’s a person who thinks giving free food to people experiencing homelessness is enabling.
In all of these instances, all I could I do was listen. I can’t change any of these situations. I can’t fix any of them. I don’t have the power. I can just be with the people. I can listen. I can care. I can offer what limited assistance I have available. And I can lament.
How long, Oh Lord? How long will this BS go on?
Sometimes this work can feel frustrating. It can feel lonely. It can feel overwhelming. It can be draining. There is so much weight. It is a heavy burden.
What else are we do to? If we are followers of Jesus, then there really is no choice in what we do – we move forward. We give what we have. We listen. We care. We offer grace – something that this world doesn’t understand and never will. Something that many who have crappy theology will never understand. Something apparently this Administration will never understand.
I’m tired of the idolatry the permeates our culture and our nation. Idolatry of success. Idolatry of money. Idolatry of individualism. Idolatry of blaming the victim. Idolatry of personalities. Idolatry of ideology and political party and politicians. Idolatry of so much.
I lament what “popular” American Christianity has become. I lament government policies and officials that hurt the poor, those experiencing homelessness, the stranger, the foreigner, the outcast. I lament those who call Jesus “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what he tells them to do. I lament people’s disregard for their fellow human being, let alone the health of the planet – we’re called to be stewards after all. I lament that money is worshipped during this season – how we celebrate how the economy is doing, and dismiss the rise in poverty and homelessness. I lament the excuses that are made for evil acts. I lament the effort to silence anyone who raises their voice in opposition to all of this as if those perpetrating these things are supposed to be immune from the consequences or responsibility.
I lament. Because some days that’s all there is to do. Lament is naming the evil that exists in the world. Naming it for what it is. And then going forward anyway. Because there isn’t an alternative. There isn’t anyone else who is going get up and do the work. There isn’t anyone else that we can wait for. We are called to do it. To stop waiting. To move forward regardless of the evil we encounter.
Jesus encounters us in our lament. Jesus wept too. And it is in this encounter that we can know that we are not alone. Jesus didn’t say, sit around and wait for someone else to go and proclaim the Good News. Jesus didn’t say wait for someone else to feed the hungry. Jesus didn’t say wait for someone else to welcome the stranger. He called on his disciples and followers to go and do it. And he continues to call on us to go and do it. The world needs to hear the Good News. The world often doesn’t want to hear the Good News. It will do what it can to silence the Good News. But so what. That’s not anything new.
And so I will continue to listen. I will continue to give away free food. I will continue to build community. I will not look away. I will see the humanity of the people I encounter. I will care. I will love. I will empower. I will work to change evil systems. I will continue to have thick skin. I will work to change who is elected to office, at every level of government. And no, it’s not about shifting from one political party to another. It’s about the type of people who get elected, not the R or D after their name. I will continue to have theological fights with those who have crappy and destructive theology. I will continue to name the idols of this world. I will not back down.
And I will lament. And that lament will motivate me even more. Those of us who lament are not alone. We lament together. We need to. Going it alone is not an option.
How long, Oh Lord? Make me an instrument of your peace, your kingdom, your Gospel. Empower the faithful to work together to bring about your kingdom.