Trying to make sense of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown CT is an exercise in futility. Nevertheless, people (myself included) are quick to look for answers, demand legislation restraining guns (or encourage more citizens to carry guns in self-defense), criticize the loss of prayer in schools, and so on. While there is a time and place for all this, my colleague Mike Engbers wonders “if we’ve forgotten how to grieve. This is a time for tears, for sorrow, for weeping” (from his Facebook wall). This is a time for tears precisely because of the senselessness of the tragedy. To use biblical language, it is a time to lament. A glimmer of comfort comes from knowing that the God who receives our praises also welcomes (and, in many of the Psalms, even provides some language for) our expressions of pain, such as this one…

Why, Lord, must evil seem to get its way?
We do confess our sin is deeply shameful;
but now the wicked openly are scornful
they mock your name and laugh at our dismay.
We know your providential love holds true:
nothing can curse us endlessly with sorrow.
Transform, dear Lord, this damage into good;
show us your glory, hidden by this evil.

Why, Lord, did you abruptly take them home?
Could you not wait to summon them before you?
Why must we feel the sting of death’s old cruelty?
Come quickly, Lord, do not leave us alone.
We plead: Repair the brokenness we share.
Chastise no more lest it destroy your creatures.
Hear this lament as intercessory prayer,
and speak your powerful word to make us hopeful.

Written by Calvin Seerveld.
Set to music (Genevan 51) in Psalter Hymnal #576.

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