For two nights in a row the city of Orlando has been hit with sudden and immense gun violence. There are 51 people dead and many injured between the attacks. They have left behind friends, families, spouses, children…
The inevitable will soon follow: The president does it. Congress does it. Local authorities do it. You do it. I do it. Some time this week everybody will have a front seat to the politicalization of the issue of gun violence. As a friend of mine recently said, something has to be done to slow down these attacks. Likewise, Ecclesiastes 3.1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” There will be time for public discourse on the place of weapons in our societies. These are conversations that need to happen.
But before we go there. Before we rush into debates and arguments, social media tirades and memes, and videos and articles showing the “good” gun guys over and against the “bad” gun guys (and vice versa). Before any of it: Mourn.
A Lost Art
I don’t know if it has always been this way, but the advent of social media and world-wide connectedness has seemingly sped up our (over)reactions. The good: we get to find out what is happening half a world away the second it’s happening. The bad: we jump right into blame shifting and skip over mourning completely. Unless you are the one going through the pain, mourning has become a lost art form reserved for 45 minutes at a funeral. If it hasn’t been removed from the public, it has been overwhelmed by partisan bickering.
Mourn because God mourns
Ever since sin entered the world, God has had reason to mourn (see Genesis 6.6). His creation is corrupted by sin and He desires good and justice to come. When He came to earth, He instructed his followers to pray that His Kingdom would come and His Will would be done (Matthew 6.7-14)– death and violence have no ultimate place in God’s Kingdom.
But until His Kingdom finally ousts the kingdom of darkness, there will be misery, pain, death, murder, and injustice. Especially as believers in this God we must mourn because He mourns. As mentioned above, God mourned when sin was out of control. God mourns at the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18.32, 33.11)– even as His justice is coming to bear. God mourns when His friends are mourning the death of their loved ones (John 11.35)– in this, He is even better than those “professional mourners” whose job it is to mourn with the sorrowful. He mourns when people reject Him for their own way (Luke 19.41).
How great is our God that even though He has promised an end to this pain, He is present with people in their pain and suffering! He hears the cries of the weak and desires to be near them in their afflictions.
…(there is a) time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3.4)
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12.15)
Jesus wept. (John 11.35)