"Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together..."
59 dead and more than 500 injured. Those are the most recent numbers I've heard. And my heart hurts.
Many have mentioned how overwhelmed they are with grief. Some say they've reached compassion fatigue. Between hurricanes and earthquakes and fires and add to that many personal losses and...now this. Another mass shooting. The deadliest in recent U. S. history.
How do we bear all of this grief? What do we do?
Unfolding public debate asks, while it's all well and good to "pray for Los Angeles", when will we DO something meaningful to prevent such atrocities??? On the other hand, some contend that to talk about gun control or mental health care right now is too political too soon.
In an effort to process my own grief and answer these questions for myself, I spent part of Monday reading all of the Lament Psalms. Not more than a verse or two here and there resonated with me. In God's defense, I was angry and likely being difficult.
On my knees (a posture I take much less often than I should) on Tuesday morning I, again, asked God: How do we bear all of this grief? What do we do? Though "asked" may be too polite a word for the tone of my prayer...we'll go with it.
After crying out for awhile I opened the Bible, slot machine style, and it fell open to Isaiah 40. I almost pulled the handle again. It wasn't what I expected or hoped for. But something stopped me and I read it slowly.
A voice cries out:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." Isaiah 40:3-5
I most often hear this on the first Sunday of Advent, very early in our anticipation of Christ's coming light...on Christmas Eve. You could say it's the darkest of the Advent Sundays.
That felt right.
It also seems right that we are in the wilderness, wandering...maybe completely lost. And so much obstructs our view of God's glory. So much stands in the way of our understanding and our collective ability to act. Different viewpoints. Different interests. General divisiveness. Fear. Anger. Grief.
In that moment it was clear to me that prayer is one way I "prepare the way of the Lord." Through prayer I can "make straight in the desert a highway for our God." A straight, direct, wide path upon which God can speed toward my heart and mind...our hearts and minds. In prayer, I surrender my viewpoint, interests, contentiousness, fear, anger, and grief to God. And, in my experience, God does clear the obstructions...the rough places...
And the particular hope I heard as I read this on Tuesday morning is that "all people shall see it together."
"The glory of the Lord" that is.
That's what I long for. That we'd all "prepare the way of the Lord" and together we'd all see God's glory...God's way through this wilderness...this mess we're in. That we might, through prayer, finally be able to DO something to prevent these senseless, increasingly horrific, recurring mass shootings.
And while I absolutely believe that one day we will all see, given current political divisiveness, I struggle to believe that day is now. Still, my prayer is that very soon enough would see that we can take action that does, finally, stop these sorts of violent acts.
Come Lord Jesus...come!
P. S. One way we heal is together through communal prayer and worship. I look forward to seeing you all this Sunday!