How long to sing this song?

“I waited patiently for the Lord,
he inclined and heard my cry.
He lifted me up out of the pit,
out of the miry clay.
I will sing, sing a new song. I will sing, sing a new song.
How long to sing this song? How long to sing this song? How long? How long? How long? How long to sing this song?
He set my feet upon a rock,
and made my footsteps firm.
Many will see, many will see and fear.
I will sing, sing a new song. I will sing, sing a new song.
How long to sing this song? How long to sing this song? How long? How long? How long? How long to sing this song?” – “40” by U2

When I first heard about the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on October 1, this song came to mind. It has become commonplace in the United States for mass shootings to happen every few months, and every time, it raises virtually the same reactions and debates. We all agree that this violence is wrong and has to stop. “How long to sing this song?”

At about the same time, there was sensational media coverage of the refugee crisis in Europe. Thousands of people arrive every day from Syria and other countries, risking their lives on a journey to a safer place than their home country. We heard horror stories of why people are fleeing, and the arduous, life-threatening journey they had faced to escape their homeland. When they arrive in Europe, they face application forms and shut doors and a system that isn’t set up yet to accommodate the volume of people arriving. I am just starting to understand the history behind this crisis, and how it continues to effect Hungary, Europe, and its neighbors. One thing is clear: no one deserves to experience such violence and fear. “How long to sing this song?”

In early October, I was reading Job as part of my personal Bible study, and all of Job’s lamenting is quite similar to the lamenting and grief surrounding the Umpqua shooting and the refugee crisis. It feels like God is very far away in these times of violence and hatred and suffering. “How long? How long? How long? How long to sing this song?”

In recent weeks, I’ve read about how radical Jesus’ and God’s actions can be. There are many examples of this ‘turning-the-world-upside-down’ God: Psalm 113 (v. 7: “He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap.”), Psalm 146 (v. 7b-8: “the Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.”), 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Luke 1:46-55. God continuously makes all things new! He picks us up out of the mud, out of our brokenness, and makes our footsteps firm, so we can go about the business of following Jesus, who heals the sick and loves sinners and raises the dead and otherwise turns the world order upside-down.”I will sing, sing a new song!”

Today (Saturday) was a “How long, oh Lord?” kind of day. After I read about the news of the attacks in Paris on Friday night, November 13, I spent most of Saturday trying to avoid the heart-breaking news. Many people posted Facebook statuses and messages and comments that their thoughts and prayers are with France and Paris, but neither of these methods addresses the root of the problem. Avoidance and prayers and internet posts are not enough. We live in a world where violent attacks on shootings in public places is common. “How long? How long? How long? How long to sing this song?”

The chorus of “40” reminds me that even though we ask “How long, oh Lord?” over and over again, we eventually do sing a new song. Violent events like this leave me with tough questions: Where is God in terrorist attacks? What does ‘your will be done’ mean? What will society look like if these violent attacks continue? As I wrestle with these questions, I know that God picks me up out of the muddy pit of brokenness I’m in and sets my feet on a solid rock, to proclaim God’s love and to live out the Gospel.

“I will sing, sing a new song.”

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