I try to write Hope. I try to remind you how beautiful it is that we exist. I try to tell you how deeply you are loved by that force that put you into existence.
I think hopefulness is my gift from God, the regenerative fiber that heals my wounds. The life raft I cling to in murky waters when my legs are too exhausted to keep me afloat. But because of my death grip on hopefulness, I think in some ways, I skip a vital step: Lamentation.
If you’re like me—a relatively sheltered girl who grew up in a middle class suburban, white, two-parent home–you might not have grown up with much reason for lamentation. Our culture doesn’t value lamentation. It values optimism. It values pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. But the Bible—most notably the Psalms, portray lamentation as a vital step to finding healing and hope.
Yesterday it struck me—it has been two years since the heartbreaking meeting in Argentina that ultimately would lead to my resignation from the mission field. Two years since my faith was shaken to the roots. I had given testimony to the transformative work God had done in my life to get me to the mission field and it was there that I felt my deepest shame and betrayal at the hands of his “church.” What on earth had I done to deserve that?
I know that in so many ways that experience is still molding me into a wiser, more compassionate minister of the gospel. And as I struggle with the daily choice to walk in forgiveness and grace, I have a deepening understanding of the value of the forgiveness and grace that God extends to me.
The childlike faith I see reflected in old journal pages is gone. The certainty and trust with which I once embraced the Church and my Christianbrothers and sisters is dead. I enter into friendships with Christians with hesitance. Bitterness and cynicism have taken up residence in my heart and there are days that they sit like heavy weights within me.
I’ve stopped believing that God purposes all things. Because what happened there was wrong. God will get glory in spite of it and He will bring meaning to the meaningless and He will breathe life into the dead child.
But God didn’t do the killing.
To the abused and grieving, there is no comfort in hearing that God is behind their suffering. If I’m going to maintain any trust in God, I’ve got to believe that evil, especially evil done in his name, is not his will and that it grieves Him too.
Not only that, He wants us to cry out to him. To lament the injustice like the Psalmists, to cast our anxieties upon him. God’s message to the suffering is not: “stop complaining and just trust me.”
Instead He says “mourn with me.” Tear your clothes like the prophets. Yes, joy will come in the morning, but you must also allow yourself the night.
So on the two year anniversary of my deepest wound, I am grieving for the dead child. I am praying for justice. I need to be reminded that He sees me and that He will redeem this.
Here’s the hardest part about forgiveness: it isn’t a one time decision. You have to choose it every damn day. And some days I just can’t. I should be over this by now, I think to myself. But I’m learning that it is good and holy to cry out, to be angry, to mourn when it feels as if there is no grace left to give.
After all, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)