Joyous Lament

Lord, I find myself walking, sitting, driving, living with a heavy heart.

Tears never far from my eyes.

A sting in my throat as I shop for groceries  for my overstocked pantry.  Walking past the mom with three young children in tow.  I hear her say “No, we don’t have enough money for that cereal right now.”

My heart aches when I see the child with holes in their sneakers while mine have several pairs. Is that wrong?

Instead of seeing greasy hair I see someone who can’t afford shampoo.  Do they have access to a working shower?

I see people walking along the road carrying their small shopping bags.  Notice their large calves.  They walk a lot.  Do they not have any other way to get around?

I notice the shy smile.  Hiding their rotting teeth.  When is the last time they saw a dentist?  Have they ever seen a dentist?  Do they have their own toothbrush?  Not shared with family?  Their very own toothbrush.

Can that child see the whiteboard in class?  Do their parents notice her squinting?  Are they able to get her to an eye doctor?  Are they lost in their own addiction?

I am awake.

My heart  literally aches.

Is this how God feels when he sees His creations in need?

I don’t wish to make small talk with friends after the smell of poverty just walked by on the sidewalk.  You know the smell.  Clothes heavy with hair grease and cigarette smoke.  Stale alcohol and fried foods.

I’m not always as much fun as I used to be.  I’m lost in thought.

I want everyone to see what I now see.  That’s not always pleasant to be around.  I know.

I want those who claim the name Christian to stop bemoaning some of our taxes going to help the least of these.  Can we help all the poor simply through charity?  Do we now?  Can the average church financially sustain paying rent, food, and medical bills for a family (or a few families) in need?  For how long?

I want those who claim the name Christian to stop complaining about their rights and their minuscule persecutions.  How dare they whine about wedding cake baking or prayer in schools while brushing by their struggling neighbor.   Why do we fuss about the little things?  Did Jesus whine about how he was treated?  Or did He reach out to the poor, the stranger, the hurting?

I wish for those who claim the name Christian to be inviting to strangers (as our namesake was) instead of being fearful of our safety and security.  Don’t we trust God?  What if we aren’t able to “Go and make disciples of all nations…”?  But those nations can come to us through seeking refuge and asylum?

I am saddened daily by those who claim to know the Truth defending obvious lies coming from our president and those surrounding him.   We should pray for our leaders, yes.  But nowhere are we commanded to become their apologists.  Didn’t Jesus shun political power?  Why are Your people so drawn to it?  Why is the evangelical church seemingly more Republican than Christian right now?

I cringe when I hear (or read) Christians react with notions of vengeance and hate.  Is that what Jesus spoke of when he said to turn the other cheek?  To walk further than asked to?  To give away our clothes when asked?

I am puzzled by the anger aimed at those who question long held traditions.  I am confused at being labeled a blasphemer or heretic when espousing the direct teachings of Christ.  Doesn’t the entire Old Testament point toward Him?  Isn’t the New Testament all about Him and His church?

Lord, why are Your people so very defensive?  Why so quick to anger?  Why so eager to be offended?  Why so “me” focused?  And most importantly, why can’t they see themselves?  Why didn’t I see my contradictions in action and belief before?  Why do I now?

Why is it that friends are surprised to discovered that I am a Christian?  Does kindness and empathy not fit the mold of what they are used to seeing?  Is it odd for a Christian to treat homosexuals like equals?  Is it wrong for a Christian to avoid “church people speak” because it often rings hollow?  Is it weird for a Christian to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers?  That life is full of grey?  Is it unusual for a Christian to truly believe that we are to genuinely love others?  All others?  Didn’t Jesus?

Lord, there are days when I am burdened.  There is much I cannot fix.  Many needs I cannot meet.

There are times when words sting.  Strained relationships  hurt.   Whispers and glances are seen.

There are times when I dream of being oblivious to hypocrisy.  Oblivious to the way the church is perceived by my friends.

Oblivious to all the poverty surrounding me.  Oblivious to the pain in others’ eyes.  Numb to the horrible things I’m powerless to change.

And I sometimes wish to lose this sight, this bleeding heart, this raw example to my children.  Oh, the pain it has already caused them to notice, to care, to question.

Yet there is joy.  Joy in having clear purpose.  Joy in finding new meaning in the scriptures.  Joy in prayers muttered as I go about life.

Thankfulness for tearful eyes.

Peace amidst the chaos.  Peace when the news is bad.

Humility in seeing Your heart.

Confidence that You are in this.

Gratitude for the chance to be Your hands and feet.

Love for those who are unseen, unimportant, unloved.

So, Lord, may my eyes always be open, my hands always ready to reach out, and my heart willing to be broken.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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