It’s raining, well sleeting really, after days of sunshine the weather has turned cold and grey again, not really surprising at this time of year, fluctuations in temperature are common, we all know it, but it is a British hobby to complain about it. The weather is often our favourite topic when it comes to small talk with neighbours and acquaintances. It’s easy to grumble about the weather, and also to accept it because it is completely out of our control. We might cry out “How long?” but we can be assured that the seasons will turn and warmer weather will return.
Many things are completely out of our control, the war in the Ukraine for example, although we can raise our voices, lobby our MP’s sign petitions and join with protests, most of us have no control over it, someone commented yesterday that other things have crept in ahead of reports from the Ukraine in our news broadcasts; the Oscars and all that went on there, fines being handed out for those attending Downing Street parties, and yet war still rages in Europe, do we cry out “How long?” Do we weep and lament alongside our Ukrainian sisters and brothers, and if so how about those in The Yemen, and Palestine? How quickly we become deaf and blind, maybe our lament should be our coldness of heart…
How about the rising oil prices, the energy crisis that is about to hit us with force, some of us will be okay, we may turn down our thermostats, and drive less, but we will likely weather the storm, others will be choosing between heating and eating. Hunger should not be an issue for any in this day and age, as Steve Chalke Tweeted this morning;
We should measure the prosperity of a nation not by the number of millionaires, but by the absence of poverty, the prevalence of health, the inclusion of its education system, the care it offers to its most vulnerable members, and the equality of opportunity it extends to all.
Equality for all, do we cry out “How long?” Do we try to help those who need help, speak up, lobby, befriend?
Do we continue to notice the rising Covid infections, the way that our hospitals are stretched, or is this just becoming an expected part of our daily life, forgetting that the clinically extremely vulnerable are still extremely vulnerable? Do we shed our masks and carry on? “How long?”
It strikes me that Lament needs to be action as well as words, that unless we change our ways, and question our attitudes then no amount of verbal lamenting is going to make a difference. The prophet Joel brings us God’s words; rend your hearts and not your garments, take a good look within, consider your ways. I took a look at my wish list of books this morning, and considered the pile of unread books I already have, I can come up with all kinds of reasons to buy them, but surely that money at this time could be better used to give to a foodbank, or to an appeal for refugees. I can similarly look at my diet habits, my shopping lists and more, I am not saying the occasional treat is wrong, just challenging myself to consider how I live. When I cry “How long?” am I willing to be part of the solution of seeing the kingdom of God come here and now!
Many will know that I am struggling with depression and anxiety at the moment, please believe me that this is not me beating myself up, this is in many ways me confronting my shadow, and being real, it is a step in healing and freeing myself from burying my head in busyness and coping mechanisms, and is therefore healthy. From my depression I have called out “How long” and found that repentance and reconciliation often go hand in hand. I love the words in the parable of The Lost Son, where sat in the pig pen with nothing to eat, he returns to/ comes to himself and makes a plan to return only to be met by grace. There are many things that are out of my control, but others are not, these are things I can and want to do something about. I will probably stumble and fall, but I walk with one who walks with me and will dust me off and lift me to my feet again.