When it is too much to bear but must be borne

Musings while in mourning

stephen matlock
3 min readApr 19, 2023
Image by Lars Nissen from Pixabay

Y’know, I’ve been trying to be a Christian for some 50 or so years now. I’ve done the Bible school/college stuff. I’ve done the preaching and teaching and evangelizing. I’ve done mission work in the States and some mission work outside the States. I’ve tithed, sang, led, helped, donated, and loved a lot, as much as I know how.

And what shakes my faith so strongly right now is seeing this “stuff” happen that we euphemistically call “racialized violence,” as if there are two in this tango of death. (I’d use more determinate words, but this is a family-friendly website.)

I get it that Christian theology tells us that God is Sovereign & All-Powerful but that God self-limits God’s power in the guise of granting free will, that humankind is fallen and corrupt, but in Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah and Savior, we can have new life that empowers us to do good and to transform the world. I get that theology. God sees the sin and pain and death, but what can God really do about it besides be angry and prepare for justice later when it won’t matter anymore?

Here we are in the richest nation in all of history. One of the most thoroughly God-saturated societies with a certain Christian viewpoint that controls our politics and education and economics. Jesus is mentioned at goal lines and gas stations, is given praise when something good happens, and is besought in our national trials. You can’t go a block without seeing a church or assembly or meeting hall or center that has a Christian name on it with a message on the marquee telling the world of the wonders of Jesus.

The world is a dewdrop. The world is a dewdrop.
And yet. And yet…
~Kobiyashi Issa

With all the Jesus we have, all the prayers, all the songs, all the calls to action and calls to love — where is it when the hard stuff happens? Where is that Christianity in a nation where the people I love and care for so much are seen as perfect victims for both men and women to rage against to the point of violence and death?

How do I make my faith work anymore (and maybe it never did) when such a very Christian nation seems incapable of seeing the violence we are initiating, celebrating, and dismissing, often while claiming the name of Jesus?

Where is the church with its hundreds of millions of adherents? Why do we spend so much money transforming plowshares back into swords because we think our families need protecting or our rights need defending and meanwhile children seeking help are seen as threats to be eliminated by force?

I’m not asking you for answers, really. Not asking anyone. I’m just thinking that with all I’ve hoped for, prayed for, worked for, sacrificed for — none of it has made a bit of difference.

I can’t look at the face of that young man, Ralph Yarl, without being overcome by inordinate sadness and grief, helpless to stop the madness of death and violence. It’s Trayvon and Freddie and Tamir and Sandra and Ahmaud and …. one day soon it might be a grandchild who is seen as the perfect victim who needs no champion. It is close to home, but not close enough to offer any protection.

There is no balm for this endless, unchangeable grief.

Sometimes it is just too much. And yet else can I do but endure it?

Originally published at https://stephenmatlock.com on April 19, 2023.



stephen matlock

Writer; observer; sometimes doer. Fiat justitia ruat cælum. More at stephenmatlock.com Mostly off Medium now & writing elsewhere