On what to do with our anger and outrage

In church this morning the minister twice, briefly, expressed himself in what he referred to as ‘a rant’. Off the back of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 14:31-33 about kings counting the cost of war and instead seeking peace, his perfectly legitimate comment on the passage was tinged with a sense of outrage at the situation which continues to rage on in the Ukraine.

In fact, I found the sense of horror and perhaps anger which lay underneath both his words and the passion with which he expressed them very helpful. Adrian Plass wrote a poem once with characteristic honesty called ’Am I the only one’ (It is in Cabbages for the King and he read it on last Friday’s podcast ‘Sounding the Shallows’ if you want to hear it.) You see, I am wondering - am I the only one who can’t pray about the Ukraine? Maybe I am, or if not let me know. Don’t misunderstand me, I know prayer matters much more than we understand. So if you are someone who can intercede and can find words, I am glad. Perhaps you are praying on behalf of those of us who can’t.

But I simply don’t know what to do. There will be some – perhaps some of you reading this – who can help practically, opening homes or giving significant amounts of money. The humanitarian aid, at least some of the time, is reaching people like the grandmother of the young woman in our daughter’s church who had been without electricity or food as war surrounded her. There is much being collected and sent here locally. Love and solidarity in action.

Yet the enormity of the situation paralyses us, doesn’t it? Many of us can only watch a small portion of the news lest we are overwhelmed, and the risk is then we close our hearts in self-protection. For many of us it is the children and their suffering, so far beyond their understanding and without words to give their pain a shape, which leaves our hearts and spirits hurting. And yes, at times it is the hurt I feel but at other times an anger, rage even, at the injustice, at the power of evil that lies behind the violence. Under that, of course, is the powerlessness and impotence that we start to sense early in life and do everything we can to not look it in the face.

I’m sure some of you will take me on theologically and hand me answers, at least partial ones. Feel free, though I am not seeking to be either corrected or helped. Because I hope others of you will stand with me in the abject bewilderment and helplessness that swirls within. That perhaps we can allow ourselves not to be neat Christians with our boxed off ideas but simply people who are crying out to the God of compassion, catching something of his pain at his broken world. Yes, one day it will all be put right and shalom will reign. But for now, I hope, it is alright for tears to be the only prayer I can muster, and to be grateful that those tears are held by the Jesus who stands with us in the Good Fridays of history.

Picture from Pixabay

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