The Importance of Lament – Part 2

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Jesus, Matt. 5:4

Like so many people, I have been deeply affected upon hearing the story of Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, committing suicide. Rick Warren, in such an open and vulnerable way, shared an e-mail where he spoke about his brokenness. It was painful to read because death is always painful. I am reminded of a scene in Lord of the Rings (Two Towers) when King Theoden is at his son’s grave site and says “no parent should have to bury their child.” It is a reminder of the unspeakable anguish of what a parent feels when they lose a child.

In our culture, there is such a stigma about mental illness and suicide. These are the taboo topics that many in evangelical circles, or religious circles in general, don’t want to talk about. However, the more people don’t talk about it, the more people are forced to bear the pain alone. Losing a child is difficult (and that’s an understatement) but to heap feelings of shame and guilt on top of that doesn’t help. When someone dies from a terminal disease, we don’t deem their death as weakness or something that we must hide from others. Just because the illness happens in the brain does not make it less of an illness. I really hope and pray that our reaction to anyone’s death is one full of compassion and grief instead of sanctimonious platitudes of self-righteousness bereft of love and grace.

Death is devastating. As a Christian, it is but another reminder of the broken, fallen world that we live in. Death was not part of the original plan. It came as a result of sin. And so when we see it, our minds and our hearts are jolted back to the reality that the system is broken. While we long and yearn to see the day when there shall be no more death, that glorious day when God shall wipe away every tear from our eyes, we do not live in that dream just yet. Instead, we are thrust into living a nightmare that we cannot wake up from. And in this horrible place, we can do nothing but mourn. Mourn for the death of our loved one. Mourn for the sins of the world. Mourn for the life that is no more. Mourn for our broken dreams and shattered lives.

When we are humble enough to be honest with ourselves and with God, when we throw away our masks and in absolute nakedness present our whole selves to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Bible says that He will comfort us. He will give us consolation. He will give us a peace which passes all understanding. We cannot forget that the Lover of our soul experienced the touch of death Himself. He knows Death rather intimately. But He also knows that Death will ultimately be swallowed up by His victory. On that day, we shall rejoice more fully. However, today, when the promise of life looks bleak, He is there to hold our hands and weep with us. The tears shall pour forth. The confusion will remain.  And He will lovingly and graciously wrap His arms around us, and give us rest.

I hope and pray that we, as members of His body, would continue to lift up Rick Warren’s family in prayer. May He use us to be vessels of love, grace, and encouragement during such a time as this.

Wednesday Writings – Jan. 2, 2013

Hi everyone! Today marks the first Wednesday Writings post for 2013! I really want to thank yall for taking the time to read what I have to say. WordPress tells me that since I started this website in September, I have received 1600 views from people in 19 countries! Wow! So humbled and so excited that this website has been able to reach so many people.  My hope and goal for this website is to create a space where ideas and discussions flourish. Thank you for liking, sharing, and engaging with me either here on this website or you can join the discussion on Facebook. I hope that 2013 will bring about more participation and interaction with yall!

I wanted to start the New Year with a bang so I decided to ask my friend Rose-Ingrid Gracia to be my first guest blogger. Rose is a multi-talented artist who sings, writes, does spoken word and is just all around awesome. She’s currently in the process of releasing an album this summer and I am eagerly awaiting to get my copy signed! If you want to get in touch with her, follow her on Twitter and like her Facebook page to get up-to-date info about her album release.

Without further do, here it is.

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Something is wrong here.
Something just ain’t right.
Something is wrong here.
Do you hear our plight?

As I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

Could ya throw in an i5,
Louis V and a fly ride?

Oh and I was wondering, God,
If you’re still awake
Could you find the time to send me a mate?

He don’t have to be perfect,
But I’d prefer him tall.
I can’t have midget children after all!

It don’t have to be immediate,
I know I’m supposed to wait a minute.
But might I remind You of my 5 year plan?
I ain’t getting any younger. You heard my grams!

I could also use a new pair of shoes.
Preferably TOMS;
Gotta pay my dues in this dying world.

And since You’re the God of my blessing,
I know you can’t refuse.
Don’t worry God I prayed, read my verse, and paid my tithe.
You know I’m all in on this covenant ride.

I’m just saying hey before I lay my head.
Praying this shout out will give me a li’l heavenly cred.

Something is wrong here,
Something just ain’t right.
Something is wrong here,
Do we know our plight?

Dear God, I don’t know if this will work but I’ve run out of options.
Mommy’s gone and daddy’s a monster.
I really wish we could be a family again.
I wish we could all sing and laugh and be friends.

Can you help me? God!
If you’re really out there?
Momma says you are,
But that ain’t seem to help her thus far.
None of my friends have to cry as they lay their heads.
They all seem to live aite
With out kneeling at their beds.

At night, the world just seems so much darker.
Hope seems so much farther.
I don’t know how much more I can take,
So God PLEASE be my escape.

If you’re real send me an answer,
Cause this battle’s giving me an ulcer.
I know somewhere deep down in my pit

Something is wrong here,
Something just ain’t right.
Something is wrong here,
Would you please hear my plight?

It gets a little harder with every day I hide.
Every time I smile, I am becoming more of a lie.
I know you’re real I just can’t rationalize
My reality with the life I’m living anymore.

I’m so tired of hiding behind walls,
Creeping around in the night,
I feel like a whore.
The worst part is that people are beginning to know;
It’s not my little secret anymore.

I have found pleasure in the company of men
Joined myself together to an immoral end
They say You can help me
But I don’t know anymore
I have fallen so far
Become such a fraud
I can’t even hear your voice any more!

OH GOD!
Can you still love a man as broken as this?
Is there room at God’s table,
For this fallen prince?

Something is wrong here
Something just ain’t right
Something is wrong here
Can you see past my night?

When did it get so cold?
It seems like yesterday summer winds blew so bold
You could taste the salt in the air
Blowing off the ocean as we danced

Such a pair
We were one
So in love

Turns out I’m dumb
I didn’t know this could happen
“Forever” left me undone

All at once
Why did no one warn me?
Before it began

2 months. 3 weeks. 2 days. 5 hours.
I ran
Those digits will haunt my memory till I expire
Forever reliving these memories so dire

I wonder,
If he was handsome.
She could have been tall.
I wonder if they’ll know I loved them all the while.

Cold metal like a gun
Inserted into the mouth of life itself
Reached into my body and snuffed it out
Snatching my breath away

No longer the same I walk around lame
Deaf, dumb, blind and numb
To all that I’ve ever known
I will never have her hand to hold!
Never kiss his cheek goodnight
Oh God! I’m a murderer!
Can you see my plight?

Been washing these hands for days and days                                                   Dressed like a Lady in my guilt and my shame                                                         No one knows                                                                                                      Just like I’ll never know her name

Something is wrong here
Something just ain’t right
Something is wrong here
Can you redeem a life?

The importance of lament

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“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” – Jeremiah 31:15

These words definitely hit me like a ton of bricks. These last couple of days, my heart has been breaking and grieving. Hearing about the senseless killings that happened in Newtown, Connecticut makes me want to weep. I think of people going to the shopping malls and trying to figure out that special gift that would make their kid smile and knowing that this Christmas, this would not be happening. Nor the year after that. Nor the year after that as well. We, as a society, strongly believe that children should bury their parents and not the other way around. If anything, it is what makes this tragedy that more heartbreaking. Lives snuffed out before their prime.

In light of such tragedy, I think it is only normal for us to ask the question of “why?” Why did this happen? How could an “all-loving” God allow this to happen? And when we do, we follow a long list of Biblical characters who in their pain cried out to God. In their confusion, they raised their voices, tinged with anger, shouting for vengeance for the injustice done to them. To lament is to acknowledge our present reality. To lament is to acknowledge our grief. To lament is to be human. When a loved one is taken away from us, especially in such a horrible and heinous manner, how can we not pour forth tears?

I know that there are some Christians who think that grieving is inappropriate. After all, they’re going to heaven. We should instead rejoice because now the person is in the presence of God. While that reality is true, it does not negate the reality that we who are left behind have to face. We have to face the reality that the person is not going to come back. And that reality can definitely seem unbearable. Because it is. But as a Christian, the one thing that the Scripture says is that we don’t have to “grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13) It never says that we should not grieve. It says we should not grieve as if we have no hope. And our hope lies in the fact that the death we will experience in this life is now but a shadow of death because of what Jesus has done for us. Paul says that “since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thess. 4:14). In the face of such a devastating reality, the reality of the hope we have in Jesus can give us hope.

As Christians, we are called to “weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12:15) When Jesus came to this earth, he saw and felt the same evil realities that we live through. And when Jesus came face-to-face with the death of Lazarus, his beloved friend, the Scriptures say something that is so heart-wrenching and profound: Jesus wept. (John 11:35) Even though he will raise Lazarus back from the dead in the next following verses, he still lived in his present reality that involved his beloved friend being gone from this life. When faced with the horrific nature of the cross, the Man of Sorrows himself cried out to the heavens in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends who have lost loved ones. My heart is shattered by the lives snuffed out by such a despicable crime against humanity. I pray that our Father in heaven will grant you comfort and peace which passes all understanding. I pray that the Prince of Peace shower you who mourn with his kindness and love. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give you solace in your time of grief.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.