All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. My enemies hunted me down like a bird, relentlessly, for no reason. They caught me alive in a pit and threw stones at me… I call on your name, [Redeemer], from the depths of the pit. – Lamentations 3:46, 52-55 (CEB)
There’s holiness in the righteous, grief-fueled anger of one who refuses the false consolation of empty promises without action. Suffering injustice and unfounded persecution, they will not be silenced. The obvious enemy demands silence by threat of violence. The less obvious enemy demands composure and civility, performing solidarity, wielding false compassion.
Scripture shows moments of unmitigated grief: the lamenter’s eyes flowing rivers of tears, no quick pivot to hope and praise. Discomfort with despair can lead us to spiritualize, our pretty words counseling premature hope and unquestioning faithfulness. Pretty words turn pretty ugly when used to cover the mouth of the one crying out, silencing the expression of suffering rather than subverting the cause of suffering.
The uncaring open mouth of a known enemy spits fire that burns the body. The careless open mouth of one who comes as a friend spews venom that poisons the soul.
I’m still learning how my pretty words might intend encouragement, yet impact as punishment to the one cast into a pit by their enemies. Sometimes my words land like stones when I think I’m lowering a ladder. Shouting down from my comfortable place at the pit’s edge is no help whatsoever. But if I close my mouth and open my hand, perhaps I can help them climb out.
Close my mouth and turn my heart when I am tempted to silence a suffering sibling with the weapon of hollow hope. Amen.