We sometimes feel helpless when we see images of the results of conflict and war, more recently attempts to immigrate. Recent photo of three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on Turkish beach and video of 18-month-old being rescued in Aegean Sea after migrant boat capsized. Bloodied victims of Boston Marathon bombings. Trapped office workers jumping from twin towers after 9/11 attacks. Naked young South Vietnamese girl running in agony after accidental drop of flaming napalm during Vietnam War. Radiation victims of atomic bomb blasts in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Piles of Holocaust skeletons in German concentration camps.
It was not until Vietnam that our viewing of these images became more contemporaneous with the actions that caused them. Today, the images are delivered so quickly and often that I wonder if we feel more numb than helpless. Terms are used now that remove the humanity from tragedy and violence that were once unspeakable: queue jumping, boat people, illegals, collateral damage, friendly fire, neutralization, smart bombs, surgical strikes.
But I imagine that when we see these images — old or new — our hearts are broken — no matter our political views on immigration or war. I imagine that, at least some of the time, we are moved to tears — that we weep.
Psalms 125 and 126 give us guidance. They lay the groundwork for believing that the aftermath of unbearable evil, destruction, and despair can be restoration, hope and joy. They say weeping can be our ministry.
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy…” (Psalm 126:5-6, NIV)
When we are shown hopelessness, terror, and desolation, let us sow with tears. Let us go out weeping. And trust God to transform our tears and weeping into hope and joy.