Lamenting and Mourning Over Newtown


The news surrounding the horrific events that happened in Newtown, CT hit me like a huge weight. I went through the last two days feeling a wide range of emotions: shock, anger, deep compassion, deep love for my family and numbness. I have to be honest and say that all of my theological training melts away because there no answers that seem adequate nor do I want to jump quickly to a fix. In this day and age when we can quickly turn horrific violence off when we turn the video game or the television off, try as we might, we can’t turn this off completely. What hit me the most yesterday is knowing that parents said goodbye to the children as they sent them out the door for the bus or dropped them off at school, not knowing that it would be a different kind of goodbye.

We don’t talk about the laments in the Psalms much. I don’t know how to lament properly maybe because no one has ever taught me how to biblically lament. I’m always astounded to remember that a good portion of the Psalms are different ways of lamenting:

  • God, where are you?
  • God, why do evil people prosper?
  • God, why have you forgotten your people?
  • God, when will things improve?
  • God when will you save us?

Here’s my question… how do you lament? How do you hold the life that has been given to you by God as a gift while at the same time holding the seeming injustice, the horrific evils perpetrated, the seeming disappearance of God in personal presence or neglecting His people? Do you feel sad for a second and then get back to your life? Does it overwhelm you?

Jewish thought always included a sadness about this life. As gospel-centered people this is clear with the cross of Christ. It’s sobering, it’s sad, it includes mourning. Yet, there is a hopeful presence that keeps us grounded to keep us from absolute cynicism or despair. Judaism (and Christianity shares this) is not about being happy. It’s about being whole. To connect with the deep sorrow and anger that the events of Newtown have brought out, in an ironic way, helps us become more whole as we let compassion sink deeply into our hearts, sense the injustice of innocent life taken, while at the same time  holding on to the great hope of the future.

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