I was on vacation when I learned of the shooting in Orlando. To be honest I was trying to disconnect from normal news cycle and focus on my family, but if we have learned anything lately it is that you cannot escape the violence and hatred that seems to permeate our culture. This horrific incident will again divide people. There will be debates about gun control, immigration, Islam, and the LBGT community.
As I consider all of the complexities of this tragic event, I am at a lost for words. How do we begin to comprehend such violence? How do we begin to understand such hatred? How do we begin to contemplate any solution to these complex issues? I find myself very leery of those who seem to have all the answers to these complex issues. I am reminded of those in Jeremiah 6:14, which reads “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.”
What are we to do? Let me suggest that we spend some time grieving. What would it be like if those who followed Jesus refrained this week from offering answers and did not even pose questions, but simply took time to grieve? What if we were to grieve like parents who lost children? What if we were to grieve like siblings who lost siblings? What if we were to grieve like grandparents whose grandchild was clinging to life in a hospital? What if we were to grieve our loss of innocence, of feeling safe and any hope of life being like it use to be? What if we were to just grieve?
I think grief calls us to tears not fears. I think grief begs for more time in prayer and less time in debate. Grief requires less talking and more silence.
What if this week we grieved? I know there are those who think now is the time to speak. They will argue there has been too much silence. We all must do what we feel called to do in such moments. I respect others and I will let them speak. However, I am going to choose to grieve and do so quietly. Instead of speaking, I am going to sit in the ashes. Like Job and his friends who sat in the ashes for seven days and nights because of the difficulty of life, I think a week to grieve might be the best course of action. In the silence and the ashes, I am going to listen. I am going to listen for God to speak beyond the noise and the news cycle. I am going to listen for a voice of comfort, peace and hope. I am going to choose to believe that our God is always at work in the midst of some of the most horrible situations. I am not going to tell God what God should do, nor even ask God to act. I am going to grieve quietly and believe God is acting and speaking. Yes, I am going to grieve and listen. I am going to grieve with the hope others will join me. For grief is easier when others share it with us. What if, at least for this week, as God’s people we just grieved?
This coming Sunday, we will continue our series on People Jesus Met as we consider “The Forgotten One.” I am looking forward to our time of worship.
-Dr. Jeff Roberts