Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 (KJV).
Do you ever ask yourself, as I do, do I care enough?
Not an easy question, that. It ought not to be asked – we do care, and we know that we do. In a native place we spurn those vain, showy compassions that only ruffle our peace and take us nowhere and achieve nothing, and we have helped one another be done with the self-referential moanings of false guilt, but all the while the real agonies of disappointment and loss and physical suffering have taken their toll. The very suggestion that there are tears yet to be shed leaves us stunned, and many among us haven’t any more tears to cry anyway.
Sometimes we ache for others, in their pain, in their loss. We do care, sometimes deeply, but it is too much, it is far and away too much, too great an ask, that we should summon up grief, now that we have learned to live abstracted from it wherever possible.
Now having said all of that, will you enter into a season of weeping with me? Tears may or may not flow, but could we, together, surrender to all the grief we can bear in Christ Jesus during this Lenten season?
I think of all the posts I see on facebook and Instagram that portray the gruesome, pitiless horrors of abortion, and when I pause and let the impact touch me, I remember the women, their mothers, as lacerated as their torn infants, and then I think of the fathers that will never know on this earth that lives of their tiny sons or baby girls were martyred. I think of the fathers who knew, and hardened their hearts, and when I make room, tremendous sorrow mingles with incredulity.
Thank God for all of those who do not let injustices and savageries slip quietly into our culture, but we are brined in mediapathy and without release, we cannot contain another drop. We hear of those imprisoned, forsaken, separated from the wives, the parents, the children that might still love them and care about them, miss them, want them, and need them. We see the anguish of those they have wronged, even to the loss of life, and we care in both directions, and yes, it rips our hearts in two if we do not hurry along. As Bilbo Baggins said, we “feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
Even so, wretchedness and atrocities whirl and scream around us like wolves howling into a banshee wind. Even where and when we cannot speak, is it too late to care to the core of our souls for children exploited as transgender experiments, of maiden girls (and young men) sold into sexual slavery, even when they sold themselves cheap? I wonder sometimes, does social media more remind me or inure me? It doesn’t matter. It’s my conscience, and I’ll cry if I want to.
I’m not much of a weeper, actually. If ever I was, not anymore. All wept out, perhaps. But I want to spend this next season actually endeavoring to care until it hurts and to hurt until my anguish touches the heart of God. I cannot manufacture anguish, and that’s why we don’t even try, but I can stop … and consider … and realize … and feel deeply … and pray until the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ prays through my spirit, my voice, with all compassion, nothing manufactured, but nothing held back, either. As always, as always, it will take time, but if I can give nothing else, if tears never flow, at least I can give that. Time and attention and a steady hope, too. For without hope, rivers of tears are worth nothing, and that is where we must begin.
Soldier Comforted at the Loss of a Fallen Friend, Korean War
By permission, Wikipedia, PD-USGov-Military-Army, Sfc. Al Chang