The images contained in the message brought tears to my eyes. The message was titled “Urgent Prayers for Damascus”.
Photographs sent from Syria of a recent bombing along with the words, “fleeing to Lebanon for refuge.” An article in Think Progress said, “The people here have collapsed, they are seen talking to themselves in the streets. They don’t know where to go. We are living a catastrophe.”
Can you even imagine? Mothers fleeing with their children? How do you run with a baby or toddler in your arms?
I felt myself exhale followed by a wash of rage over the injustice and then my tears of grief came along with my hearts cry, “Where are you, God?”
I wrote a lament for our Red Tent warrior page almost a month ago. ‘Where oh Lord are you? Where are you while the vulnerable wait for your rescue.”
The cry in my soul is desperate and deep. I am not done.
In his book, A Sacred Sorrow, Michael Card says that lament is the deepest, most costly demonstration of belief in God. Only someone who is fully awake and engaged in life can lament. Lament only comes from the lips of those who know hunger and thirst, the true terrain of the wilderness.
Today as we enter into Lent, it seems appropriate that we enter into lament. My soul aches for the people fleeing Syria, for the victims of the Oxfam scandal, for the women world wide who can claim “MeToo”. It aches for the people of color who have long known discrimination and violence directed at them simply by virtue of their skin color. And, for the places where the church in America has been silent to the injustices perpetrated within its own walls, I have a scream inside of me that begs the need for lament.
Lament gives depth, nuance and clarity to the larger ecclesial narrative as we surrender long held beliefs, prejudices and defenses. It requires a change in the narrative that has largely shaped the evangelical church until now. Dan Allender says, “Sadly, we have misunderstood the great value of public and private lament. To lament—that is to cry out to God with our doubts, our incriminations of him and others, to bring a complaint against him—is the context for surrender. Surrender—the turning of our heart over to him, asking for mercy, and receiving his terms for restoration—is impossible without battle. To put it simply, it is inconceivable to surrender to God unless there is a prior, declared war against him.”
Can we invite this declaration of war? Can we, with our invitation to lament, expose the battle that is raging and invite the church to name it as a whole and cry out to God? Can we cry out to God in anger that is directed at knowing His heart more fully?
There is a silent and raging multi-racial river of suffering running through the church, in our country and our world. Suffering that is both individual and institutional. I believe that in our expressions of grief, we invite the world to grieve.
Today I will wear black. I will light my prayer candles for my sisters suffering here in Austin, across America and around the world. I will light them for the mama’s fleeing with their babies in Syria. I will go to church and have ashes placed on my forehead. I will be giving up an indulgence I enjoy and instead I will enter the battle and bring my cry of lament to my God and Savior for the days between now and Easter.
Your are invited to join me, to join the other women of Red Tent Living as we enter the season of Lent together.
Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12). She is the Founder of Red Tent Living. Married for 30 years, she is mother to five kids. After a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is. She writes about her life and her work here.