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The right kind of mourning

Another tragedy has struck. We’ve seen a lot of them, haven’t we?  The “routine” that follows is hauntingly familiar.  The president speaks.  Significant events are cancelled.  Security is tightened.  We have a national outpouring of emotion, affirmation, and pronouncements regarding the indestructibility of the American spirit.  I saw on one of the social media sites someone was calling for everyone to wear a certain color of clothing today.  The radio stations I listen to were spending the day putting all of this under a microscope. 
I was busy looking for another radio station.

It’s not that I don’t care --- I’m just not sure that all of this energy and attention isn’t a bit misdirected.  It seems as if we’re becoming a nation of mourners when it comes to certain tragedies, celebrity deaths, and a few other choice things.  But is it truly helpful as a country to twist ourselves into knots when these kinds of things happen and then after a certain amount of time has passed, go back to living in disregard of the Almighty? 

Joel told his audience to “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love,” (Joel 2:13).  He wasn’t being critical of their grieving per se, he was being critical of unprofitable grieving.  Is it possible that we engage in unprofitable grieving?

When was the last time we as a nation mourned over our sins? 

Jesus discussed two tragedies in Luke 13:1-5.  One had to do with some Galileans who died at Pilate’s hand while apparently worshipping at Jerusalem.  The other tragedy was a tower falling and killing eighteen people.  Then as a true prophet, Jesus interpreted these events to help His audience understand “how” to begin to think about and apply them.

The first thing He did was to connect the events to his audience's spiritual condition.  He tells them the things that happened to these people didn't occur because they were more sinful than you (v. 2,4).  He then He goes on to warn them that if they don’t repent, they would perish (v. 3,5). That must have really created a buzz!  Of course, Jesus wasn’t trying to be merely provocative; He was trying to get them to see the bigger picture (i.e., to think about their own relationship with God).  Why?  Because He cared deeply about them.    

Why did the bombing take place yesterday? Short of Jesus, who can say for sure?  It is heartbreakingly sad that an occasion of celebration was violated by violence and death.  The only thing more sad would be if we as a nation continue our path away from God and as a result, experience something much, much worse.  

Yesterday should remind us that humans cannot provide themselves or others with total security.  No matter how hard we try, we’ll always be vulnerable to disease, disaster, and death.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is there is ultimate security in Jesus Christ. My prayer is that we’ll do the kind of mourning that will cause us to live closer to Him and possess this assurance.      
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