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National Mourning

What takes place in Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 would be a rare sight in our American culture. It is an example of national mourning.

For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me.

Jeremiah is not mourning for his personal sin and its consequences. He is sharing in the grief and guilt of an entire nation of which he is a member. We tend to do the opposite. We scapegoat other people in our society and wash our hands of them. We point out flaws in our government and then call on God to deal with it, forgetting that we are part of the system that sustains these problems.

Let us take a rare moment and share in the guilt and grief of our nation.

Abortion

I’ve never participated in an abortion, but I can share in its guilt. I am part of the system that sustains it. I have been a member of the Republican party because of its pro-life stance, but from 2005-2006, the 109th congress proved how lacking in commitment we were. The allegedly pro-life party controlled the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House all while overseeing the implementation of a moderately conservative Supreme Court. And yet 2006 had the highest abortion total in the last ten years. While various measures were voted on, ultimately abortion remained a normal part of American society. It has decreased over the last decade under a Democratic administration, but not due to any policy shift. It is mostly the changing attitudes of Millennials that are saving us. But political solutions are far from the only answer to this problem. We often call aborted children “unwanted children.” I certainly could have wanted them more than I have. I could have adopted or helped foster children. I could do more to help expecting mothers to know that there is hope and help for them. The church as a whole could make abortion unheard of by making it unnecessary through programs that care for and assist expecting mothers. We haven’t done enough.

We can share in the grief of abortion. Whoever is to blame for the endemic of death in our culture, we can all mourn. So much life has been lost, especially among minorities. So many women have been through the life-altering trauma of beginning the process of life and then terminating it. They need to grieve, and we need to grieve with them.

For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded.

God have mercy. Kyrie eleison.

Racism

I’d like to think that I am not a racist, but I doubt that I am completely innocent. I have looked at others and silently judged them by the color of their skin rather than by the content of their character. Even if I never had, I can still shake my head in shame over our past. Israel feared that it might suffer the consequences of their forefathers, praying, “Do not remember against us our former iniquities!” (Psalm 79:8) We ought to do the same. Our past and the past of our fathers can come to haunt us. The crime of American slavery led to segregation and Jim Crow laws in the South. It isn’t even in the distant past yet. Michael Donald was lynched by two members of the KKK in 1981 outside Mobile, Alabama. The continued hostility in some parts of the country, coupled with economic disparity, are tinder boxes waiting for a spark to set off violent riots and crime. Whether intentional or not, those sparks happen and we have seen the results.

We can share in the grief of racism. Sin leads to sin. The crimes of the past have fostered the crimes of the present. Violence begets violence. Law enforcement officers in several locations have been targeted and slain. I’m not entirely sure what keeps the hate and violence alive. Part of it is economic. Part of it is systemic. Part of it is the dark and sinful recesses of the human heart. In all of it we can lament and pray for God to heal our land. We need him.

Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her King not in her?

God have mercy. Kyrie eleison.

Poverty

I’ve been poor at one time in my life, but honestly I am not today. I am blessed beyond all measure. While I don’t suppose I have cheated or purposely robbed my fellow man, I can share in the guilt. I have had opportunities to help others, but passed them by. I have given less of myself than I should. I have participated thoughtlessly at times in the pursuit of this world’s wealth, the worship of mammon. I have accepted the values taught by an empty culture, and in so doing I have encouraged others to do the same. Some claw their way to the top and ignore the less fortunate. Others take on unreasonable amounts of debt to try to live out a dream that should never have been entertained in the first place. All of this I worsen when I play the game, too.

We can share in the grief of poverty, both rural and urban. It is not a pointless exercise to grieve poverty, because it helps us to stay aware in a world that would prefer we forget. The Glenpool Church of Christ helps to feed hungry elementary children every weekend, but there are more hungry than we can feed. We can lament that. We must not forget that.

“Behold, the cry of the daughter of my people from the length and the breadth of the land.”

God have mercy. Kyrie eleison.

Sharing in Shame and Lamentation

Lamentation is not a failure, a waste, or an emotional luxury. The acceptance of shared guilt is not a weakness or a crime against self. We must stop thinking of ourselves as only responsible for what is right in front of us, worked by our own hands. We share in the welfare of this nation, and we share in its sins. We must seek no scapegoats and accept no excuse. We accept our part in the present darkness, and pray that God will heal our land.

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored? Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.

Kyrie eleison.