Lamentations 3:48-50, 55-57 “Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed. My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief, until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees. […] I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’”
“Jesus Christ, I’m alone again.
So what did you do those three days you were dead?
Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die,
But I’m a little bit scared of what comes after.
Do I divide and fall apart,
Because my bright is too slight to hold back all my dark?
The ship went down in sight of land.
And at the gates, does Thomas ask to see my hands?”
Today is the day of the tomb. A dark tomb, devoid of light, color, and life. The day where Christ was dead, and all hope felt lost. The day of the pit, of the deep, of the 11 hiding, wondering what went wrong, and where had hope gone? Will he come back? When the earthquake struck and his life blood ebbed--was that the end, both for him and for us?
The words above come from a lyric by the band, Brand New. They are searching words, ones that have always resonated deeply within me because of their honesty and the clarity of the questions. Jesus Christ, what did you do those three days you were dead? The lyricist speaks of a fear of what will come after the last breath is taken--will I divide and fall apart as my lesser bright is encompassed by my dark? The words drip with the pain of the lyricist, pain embodied in Thomas' doubt and in the fear of that day of waiting. What if he doesn't come back?
What if he doesn't come back?
On Saturday, we are reminded of suffering, and its inevitability within the human condition. Fear. Grief. Pain. Destruction. Loneliness. Mary's suffering. The suffering of the 11. Our expectant suffering of what may or may not come to pass. However, suffering is no stranger to God. The book of Lamentations is a witness to the suffering of the Hebrew people after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE during their exile in Babylonian slavery. The carnage and destruction they experienced was rampant. The book provides a language with which the community can deal with suffering. "Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed." They had been to the Promised Land, but were now in exile, suffering in slavery. Waiting and hoping.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend David Roby's new play, "Sometimes there's God so quickly." Sometimes maybe there is, sometimes there isn't. But the play revolved around rape and environmental degradation and destruction. The similarities between the two were powerful--both involve being stripped, both involve taking, both involve disregard and disrespect. Both involve suffering.
But I think that's what Jesus was doing the three days he was dead. He was in solidarity with our suffering, waiting expectantly for resurrection and redemption--for new life. Right there with us, among all of the dirt and tears and death. Today is the day of the grave, and without it, there could be no reason for the day of celebration. Both stand next to one another, celebration and suffering.
"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet
Today might be suffering, but tomorrow there is celebration, and they do not exist without one another. Just as now there is night, there will soon be sun rising once again. Today is Exile. Today is suffering. Tomorrow is Exodus. Tomorrow is salvation. Tomorrow is life. And Christ is in both.
With expectant breath for the risen Son:
- William Watson, C'13