Since moving to Rwanda, we’ve attended what I lovingly declare a “rock band church.” It’s a much different type of worship experience than what I experienced growing up or at Moody in Chicago. And some days it’s great. Some days I want to clap and sing and dance with praise for Jesus. Just not these days.
My heart is heavy with this place. When we first moved, I had very disturbing dreams related to war and genocide. It was a topic always on my mind walking the dusty red dirt roads that I had seen in news and documentary footage covered with bodies and blood. And last week, they came back.
Maybe it’s the rain, and the coming of April. Maybe it’s the fact that we are experiencing a significant exodus of friends this spring, and thus we are starting to understand the pain of leaving. Maybe it’s holy week, and the reflection on the bloody, gruesome truth of the gospel.
But I’m sad. I’m in a season of mourning. And so to clap and dance seems repulsive to me. I know that we rejoice and praise in all seasons, but some seasons I feel like it’s ok to praise God through tears of weeping.
This morning Fred and I read through the Jesus Storybook Bible beginning with the garden through the Ascension. It might be too much violence for a three year old boy, I know. It’s too much violence for me too. But yesterday leaving church we drove past a man who looked dead lying next to the road (he wasn’t dead but had seizures). That’s too much for any of us to have to see and experience.
There are seasons of unconditional joy, and there are seasons of beauty from ashes. I listen to contemplative music and hymns. I read psalms of lament because God can handle my questions and sorrow. He doesn’t require that I move quickly through the grief. And for me, Rwanda is full of grief – grief over the reality that I can’t end suffering, grief over time lost with family and friends, grief over the weight of sin.
But resurrection is coming.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)