First Comes the Weeping
November 8, 2018
First Comes the Weeping
Just over a week ago it happened at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. Now it has happened here. The news hit me hard me hard just over a week ago because it happened in a house of worship. This time it hit me hard because it happened just down the road from where I live. I have driven by the location. I know college students who go there. I knew one of the students who died there because he went to CLU and sometimes attended Holy Trinity with his family. The recent shooting at Borderline was a reminder that just because Thousand Oaks was ranked one of America’s safest cities, doesn’t mean a tragedy of this magnitude can’t happen here.
What do we say to this? What can we say? We can say we can’t believe it happened—it all seems so surreal. We can say we are so sorry for the families affected. We can say we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers. But it all seems to fall short of the depth of sorrow, confusion, and helplessness we might be feeling. It doesn’t seem like enough.
As Christians we can also say that we have the hope of Christ. We can say we have a promise of everlasting life. We can say that we believe that light will overcome darkness. But it is also okay to admit that we might not feel that light in the moment. We might not feel that hope right now. It is okay to just weep awhile and acknowledge the hurt and the sadness and the anger that might come at a time like this.
Last Sunday our guest preacher shared a message based on the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. As he reflected on the passage he asked the question, “Why did Jesus weep when he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead?” I liked this observation because it reminded me that when people are grieving it is important to allow ourselves to be in that grief for a moment and not be too quick to rush to words of hope and joy in the resurrection. Yes, it does not feel good to have the hurt of sadness tear at our hearts. Yes, we long to comfort people in any way we can. But we also do not want to deny that there is grief. We also do not want to pretend that there is not sadness, or make people feel like they don’t have the permission to experience their sorrow. It is true that our loved ones go to be in a better place, however, that does not mean we don’t really miss them being with us.
In the coming days our community will need to hear a word of hope. They will need to hear of a promise of a life beyond this one. But for now, let us not be afraid to simply weep for a moment and to remember that God is weeping with us.
-Pastor Erik Goehner