A Prayer Of Lament To A God Who Seems Late (Charleston, Ferguson, Uganda…)


I need to confess something:

I don’t know what to pray today.

I’m a Christian. I’m a pastor. I get it.

I know all the Scripture passages.

I know that I’m supposed to pray and I know how I’m supposed to pray—but the words aren’t coming.

I guess it’s that this terrible ground has become far too familiar; waking to the news of unthinkable tragedy, stunned at the reckless waste of life, and then trying to turn to a God who seems late in coming.

So often we are pulled-in-two as we pray. We live and believe in the constant, incredible tension, between a God we trust to be Love and a hateful world that He made.

In times of suffering and hatred, our prayers feel like a dichotomy. 

We ask God to mend wounds that He could have prevented.
We seek comfort for victims of violence from the One who might have stopped it.
We ask God to be present in an awful situation seemingly created while He already was.

I know what our Christian theology is. 

I understand the idea of Sin and I get that we have free will and I know that flawed people do horrible, disgusting things to one another… but I want a better answer. I want God to be bigger and quicker than all of it.

I want a God who intervenes before, not after tragedy.

I so wish that He would have sounded some alarm in those praying to Him in Charleston to allow their escape; or that He would have jammed the gun whose bullets violated the bodies of His children; or perhaps most of all, that He would have worked deep within the hateful heart of the gunman, so that such senseless rage would never have found a suitable home there.

But none of that happened—and that really pisses me off.

In some twisted way, that I know comes from my own limited understanding of what is happening, I often feel like I’m interceding for victims by making my case to their assailant.

Today I want to join the world in praying comfort for devastated families in Charleston—and I absolutely am.

I want to come alongside the petitions of the faithful, for peace to come to the hurting, and I am there.

I want to stand with those believers begging for justice and mercy and love to run amok in the middle of this living Hell, and here I do stand.

And yet I do it all with an uneasy peace about the whole thing.

Today I pray all of these prayers so wishing that they would never be necessary; that the God of love I desperately cling to would have His way already, that He would make dawn break quickly on the darkness of our hearts, that He would kick the rear end of Sin or the Devil or whatever else is preventing any more pain and anguish.

Today I pray to God on behalf of Charleston and Ferguson and Uganda and Haiti, and for every place where horror is having its day in the sun and people hurt deeply and needlessly.

Yes I do pray that God comes now, yet confess that I wish He had come sooner.


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