Sorrow is not a bad thing, but it is evidence that we live in a broken world with broken people. Sorrow can lead to a better world when God is allowed to do His work in our hearts and minds. With sorrow, God can stretch the heart so that it has a higher capacity for love, mercy, compassion and kindness. He can clear out the thoughts and ways of thinking that get in the way of seeing the world and our fellow broken people the way He sees us. Sorrow heals.
However, sorrow can also lead to darker horizons. When sorrow takes us off course and leads us to self-pity or anger or apathy, it loses its power to heal and strengthen. Sorrow can break us further and deeper.
The first way opens the door for Christ to do His work while the other asks Him to wait outside while we wallow and fester alone. In watching the aftermath of the tragedy in Orlando, I wondered if people consider which path sorrow will lead to. As a father, it breaks my heart to know that grieving parents have to hear the horrible and false narratives that are coming from all sides as they walk with sorrow through a world they are not prepared to live in. A world where their child is gone, their legacy reduced, their hope for the future dimmed, they have to find the will to move on. In sorrow.
What is truly infuriating is that some of the most vile, disgusting and hateful comments and public rants are from my brothers and sisters in the faith. While I would like to argue that the things they have said prove that they don’t truly understand Christ, the truth is I don’t decide whether they are my brothers and sisters in the faith. Jesus will decide whether they belong to Him or not one day. Right now I have to claim them as my family as much as it pains me.
And so I apologize. I am truly sorry for the hateful, insensitive and untruthful statements that have come from my “family” these past few days. I am sorry that what they have said and done has made the survivor’s walk through sorrow that much more painful and difficult. I am sorry that we don’t have a way to erase the stupidity of their ideology or the consequences of their actions. But I pray that the rest of my family can do better. I pray that we lead with love and finish with grace. I pray that we offer comfort and compassion and kindness and mercy day after day after day after day, because this walk with sorrow will be long for many.
There are many walking through sorrow today. Will we live and speak and act in such a way that it leads to the place where Christ can do His healing work, or will we knock broken people off course into a life filled with anger, frustration and even hate. May we mourn with those who mourn in a way that leads to healing and wholeness.