It was a Friday morning last month. I was on a family vacation, hadn’t read any news for few days, and was suddenly faced with several days’ worth of horrible news that filled by newsfeed and sank my spirit.
Shocked, sickened, and speechless.
Back to back police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, and the shootings of police officers in Dallas.
I thought I was becoming rather immuned to the random tragedies of our world today. Shootings here, shootings there... Terrorists that kill a score of innocent lives, often into hundreds… We’ve had Newtown, Charleston, and most recently Orlando. After a while, you just become numb and don’t even know if you have any stronger reactions than you’ve already had toward these events.
But, boy I was wrong. Beyond speechless, I was beginning to feel despair and even scared. Something likes this can happen anytime, anywhere. Is there any hope left? How worse does it have to get before actually getting better? I felt exhausted emotionally, and I also felt something inside of me telling me that somehow my feelings and attitude towards these events will never be the same anymore. Something has happened. A tipping point. A line crossed. And I think much of our society has reached that point too. We’ve reached our boiling point.
Hilary Clinton lamented: "there is something wrong with our society". Obama attempted to convince the outside world that our nation is not as broken as it appears to be. For me, I want to say, something’s always been wrong. What we are seeing is the symptoms of our long lasting ills. This is reality. We all need to dig deep into our soul.
But, that begs the question. What CAN be done? What can I do, what can we do as God’s church?
Someone said, when the society loses its collective soul, church needs to rise up. It’s not to replace society but to give a larger perspective, a new light of hope. To shine the light, to become the salt. To plant the seed of new kind of attitude and love.
And we do that one person at a time, one moment at a time, starting with me, my family and my church.
But, today, before we can do that, we need to grieve first.
- the loss of those lives destroyed
- the loss of our sense of security and innocence
- the loss of "American Dream"
- the loss of trust and pride in our systems
- the loss of even my own naive attitude toward the long standing ills of this nation
Once we grieve appropriately and thoroughly, and only when we do that, we can begin to heal our souls. And only when we begin to heal, we can let go of our impulse to harbor hatred and anger, and only then, we can begin to grow a new kind of love - the kind Jesus came to show and commanded us to follow with.
Now that several weeks have passed from those terrible news of last month, things seem not as chaotic or hopeless. Life goes on and people forget these feelings - until tragically something again happens and disturb the deep psyche of our society. At that moment, as we undoubtedly go through the ever so familiar emotions of shock and disbelief, we need to remember to grieve and lament. For each other and for our society together. So that it’s not the initial anger that fuels our emotions going forward but a real sense of helplessness that can eventually lead to a deeper hunger for what is real and true in this life. When the darkness is overwhelming - and if we can be honest to face it head on - that's when a small light of true hope can stir us deep within and make a difference that is real and lasting.
And that's why God gave himself to us, and his church to this world.