I went to bed last night after reading about another mass shooting, another place of worship as a target of pure evil, and if I’m honest I read the reports with little emotion, and a dismissal of feelings. Unintentionally I’ve hardened myself to the devastation of these reports because it is so much easier to interact with the pain in this world in this way. It’s easier to think “well that sucks,” and continue scrolling on my Facebook, but as I woke up this morning, once again trying to focus on what I needed to do, so I wouldn’t have to interact with the reality of more killings, I haven’t been able to clear my mind of what is wrong with me, with us, that I can so quickly move to the next thing.
As I evaluate myself I begin to wonder what happened to me. When I was in High School, the Columbine Shooting occurred, and, for months, I was heartbroken and confused. I kept every newspaper for the week following, read about each person that lost their lives, and even asked my parents if we could stop by the high school on the way home from a family road trip. I remember walking over the hill in the back of the still fenced off school, and looking at the boarded up windows, my heart still hurting for the devastation and hatred that unfolded there. I can still name some of the victims and the perpetrators. My heart hurt, my emotions engaged, my mind questioned, my desire for the world to know there is hope, there is a better way, stirred.
Today things are different. “Another mass shooting.” “26 dead.” “At a concert.” “At a church.” “In New York.” “In LA.” Yeah, yeah, for me it’s easier to interact with this as, “Just another terrible headline,” in a culture that will just find itself another tragedy in a few weeks.
I AM WRONG and I AM SORRY.
This is not how I should be. This is not how my heart, mind, and soul should interact with the cruelness of the world around me. My callousness is not a symptom of our culture, it is a symptom of my sinfulness.
In John 11 I find a guide of how to interact with our world of pain. Jesus has been told that his good friend Lazarus is sick and is death is knocking at his door. Quickly Jesus reassures those concerned that Lazarus will not die, but then he waits for two days before He goes to provide healing. Jesus arrives too late, Lazarus is dead, and both Mary and Marth, Lazarus’ sisters, express great frustration because “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus’ responds with an offer them hope, hope in Him, hope that death will not be the end, but then…
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.“Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Here is the lesson, the invitation for me, for you. Jesus doesn’t ignore the pain of those around Him, dismissing to the fallen-ness of the world. He does not roll His eyes and say “Listen, this has been the same story throughout history- death, pain, tragedy, and my Father has been trying to get you to understand that I’m the hope of the world. Nor does he reject their feelings by just reassuring them that everything was going to be “okay.” NO, Jesus steps right into the reality of pain, gets dirty with the truth that the darkness of this world, and the death that it brings absolutely SUCKS. It hurts, it shouldn’t be like this, our world is a messed up usher of agony, and “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled… Jesus wept.” He did not just tear up, He did not “move on,” He did not sympathize with pithy words. Jesus wept.
So if you’re anything like me, if you’ve come accustomed to reading about evil and devastation with a hardened heart, I would invite you to evaluate how much “us” Christ followers actually look like Christ in the midst of a world full of death. We must ask ourselves- Is my heart breaking for a world that God so dearly loves? Do I mourn for the darkness consuming our lives? For me, the answer is too often, “NO” and that needs to change, I need to change.
After Jesus wept, wept, wept- Jesus then makes good on Him promise and raises Lazarus from the dead. There is hope, there is an answer, and it is Jesus- a God who knows our pain, enters into our pain, holds our pain, and ultimately pays the price for the pain of each life lost, the pain of each bullet fired, the pain of each life cut short.
Jesus weeps, and His tears lead Him to the cross. May our hearts break for each life lost, may we weep over the brokenness of this dark world, and then may we invite the world to look to the only person who overcame the darkness and death- Jesus.
Application: I invite you to read through John 11 and pray this prayer- “God, help my heart soften with love to the brokenness of this world. Help me not dismiss the pain, but, God, please allow me to weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn, and pray continuously for a world that so desperately needs you. God would your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, and would you please comfort those who have lost so much.”