This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. (Lamentations 1:16)
I try not to read the news. At least not too deeply. I’ll scan the headlines just to make sure there hasn’t been an overnight zombie apocalypse (Shaun of The Dead left me scarred), but I try my best not to get pulled into news stories. They’re very, very, very rarely good news, and my heart just can’t handle the pain and suffering that humans and nature inflict. So I should’ve closed my iPad and walked away this morning, but I didn’t. And now, I’m in complete lament mode.
I’m devastated at the death of a young, 7-year-old Guatemalan girl from dehydration and sepsis after crossing rough terrain in the Mexican desert with others seeking refuge in the United States. I’m horrified by the thought of thousands of refugees who have died on US soil, unknown to anyone, and buried in potters’ graves or cremated and tossed into the sea. I’m reeling from reading interviews with Appalachian coal miners slowly smothering to death from the effects of silica dust—a tortuous death that could have been avoided had the government heeded multiple warnings.
And in a sick twist of fate, the new book I’m reading is educating me on the Rocky Flats nuclear disaster in Colorado, most of which was covered up for years by the government. Full Body Burden is a memoir that reads like a novel, the terror multiplied as the reader is reminded that every moment of human suffering is all true.
In The Question That Never Goes Away, author Phillip Yancey writes, “God provides support and solidarity, yes, but not protection—at least not the kind of protection we desperately long for.” It seems appropriate that it is during the Advent season that my heart is breaking on behalf of anyone and everyone affected by pain and suffering. I’m waiting for God to redeem the broken world we live in, and I want to work towards that redemption—somehow—in the here and now.
But first, I think I need to grieve. I need to lament for a young girl, the unknown who have died searching for a better life, miners who placed their trust in the wrong people, and the loss of my own innocent thoughts about a country that not only has blood on its hands but also on its hidden history. What can I do to make anything better? How do I love all of those neighbors as myself? Where do I begin?
Dear God, help me. Help me to channel every ounce of love I have into working for those who have been wronged, forgotten, and misguided. Show me what to do, how to do it, and where I need to start in reflecting your mercy, grace, and eternal love. Forgive me for my sins and guide me toward redemption for myself and humankind alike. Amen.