A Prayer of Lament for a World that Is Not the Way It's Supposed to Be
I wrote this lament in response to the tradgies that have overwhelmed my heart over the past few weeks: the war in Ukraine, the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, and the release of the investigation into the SBC executive committee's handling of abuse claims.
“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
- Psalm 10:1
O God from whom all things draw life and breath. We cry out to you in utter agony, utter helplessness, and utter need. Our nation, denomination, and our world is broken, fractured by pain and loss, horror and disgust, hatred and war. The ugliness of our sin is revolting, for the people you have made in your own image have been treated with contempt and disdain. Some were murdered for the color of their skin, the land they occupy, or their youth and vulnerability. While others have been silenced and vilified because they were a potential lawsuit.
Our world is full of unspeakable pain, deep heartache, and blatant wickedness. Despotic dictators, blood-thirsty shooters, and calloused committee members have trampled the vulnerable, the weak, and those without a voice.
We have exploited the poor in spirit
We have turned away from those who mourn
We have persecuted the meek
We have silenced those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
We have shamed the merciful
We have attacked the pure in heart
We have marginalized the peacemakers
We have persecuted the righteous…
How long O Lord will you allow sin to triumph & wickedness to flourish?
Great Father of Life you know the names of untold Russian sons who have been sacrificed for Putin’s maniacal passions. The names of the 6.7 million refugees who have fled from Ukraine (the women, children, and aged who have no place to go and no place to return to when this war is over).
You know the names of the 10 victims in Buffalo…
Roberta A. Drury, 32 Margus D. Morrison, 52
Andre Mackniel, 53 Aaron Salter, 55
Geraldine Talley, 62 Celestine Chaney, 65
Heyward Patterson, 67 Katherine Massey, 72
Pearl Young, 77 Ruth Whitfield, 86
You know the names of the 21 victims of Uvalde…
Makenna Elrod, 10 Layla Salazar, 11
Maranda Mathis, 11 Nevaeh Bravo, 10
Jose Flores Jr., 10 Xavier Lopez, 10
Tess Mata, 10 Rojelio Torres, 10
“Ellie” Garcia, 9 Eliahna A. Torres, 10
Annabell Rodriguez, 10 Jackie Cazares, 9
Uziyah Garcia 10 Jayce Luevanos, 10
Maite Rodriguez, 10 Jailah Silguero, 10
Irma Garcia, 48 Eva Mireles, 44
Amerie Jo Garza, 10 “Lexi” Rubio, 10
Alithia Ramirez, 10
You know the redacted names of the victims of the 380 SBC-affiliated abusers…some of whose names are known…
Camille Brown Tiffany Thigpen
Christa Brown Mary DeMuth
Anne Marie Miller Dave Pittman
Jules Woodson Megan Lively
We grieve because each one of these names are image-bearers of God who were treated with contempt and disdain, and were discarded as worthless by those who were in positions of power. Whether by the power of the military, denominational power or because they had the power of a trigger. We grieve the flippant and destructive use of power to destroy their lives and the lives of those they love.
Father, we confess that as we read their stories and hear the accounts of their suffering we do not have the answers. We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God yet we wrestle with the reality that evil is dark and sinister and pervasive. We are not safe from the wickedness of man’s heart in our nation, in supermarkets, classrooms, or in the pastor’s office.
We feel powerless because even the western weapons given Ukraine could not save the homes and lives of the Ukrainian people from destruction. The armed security officers could protect the shoppers in Buffalo. The police could not save the children in Uvalde. The authorities in the SBC did not protect the victims in SBC churches. We grieve because we are powerless and we are vulnerable.
We grieve because the loss of lives, the loss of innocence, and the loss of peace have been twisted into political fodder for politicians, lobbyists, and influences. The loss of lives and the revelation of abuse have become just another issue by which we hate our neighbors and turn on our friends. We grieve because the meek are few, the peacemakers are ignored, and the pure in heart are scoffed. We grieve because our world is not the way it's supposed to be.
Father, you have promised to dwell with your people…How long will you tarry?
Father, you have promised to wipe away every tear…How many more tears must we cry?
Father, you have promised to a day when death will be no more…How many more deaths until it is over?
Father, you have promised there will be no mourning…How many more funerals of those who have been snuffed out by hatred?
Father, you have promised no more crying…How much longer must we grieve over murder and abuse?
Father, you have promised no more pain…How much longer must people struggle under the lifelong wounds of their abusers?
Father, how much longer until the former things of hatred and wickedness, racism and abuse of power are forever thrown into the lake of fire that burns with fire and sulfur?
Father, we trust your promises, we love your Word, we await your return.
We praise you for you are good and you always do that which is right.
Though we do not understand…we trust your wisdom.
Though we weep…we do not lose hope in your deliverance.
Though we are angry…we do not seek revenge but entrust vengeance to you.
Though we are weary…we do not give up but follow your commands.
Though we are hurting…we wait for you to make us whole.
Father, though are hearts are heavy, our spirits crushed, and our tears bitter we trust in your promises.
We know you have not forgotten your people.
We know that in Christ ALL our sin was punished.
We know that you will return bringing recompense on the wicked.
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to your purpose.
We know you keep our tears in a bottle.
We know you care for the widow and the orphan.
We know you hear our prayers.
We know you are near to the broken-hearted.
We know you save those who are crushed in Spirit.
We know you have sent your Spirit to comfort your people.
We know you are coming again…come quickly Lord Jesus.
We lift our eyes to you
“O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” Psalm 10:17-18