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January 19, 2021

This is the latest installment of The Resistance Prays devotional series God With Us. 
“US virus death toll tops 400,000 in Trump’s final hours” - via the Associated Press.
“Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
    lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
    she refuses to be comforted for her children,
    because they are no more.
 Thus says the Lord:
Keep your voice from weeping,
    and your eyes from tears;
for there is a reward for your work,
says the Lord:
    they shall come back from the land of the enemy;
 there is hope for your future,
says the Lord:
    your children shall come back to their own country.”
- Jeremiah 31:15-17
I am still haunted by the anonymous GOP official who said of Trump, “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time?” We all saw how much humoring Trump over election results hurt: the distrust and disinformation he sowed sprouted quickly into violent and deadly fruit. But, truth be told, that’s only expected: he spent years preparing the soil for these seeds of riot and sedition. I truly hope the GOP has learned its lesson from four years of this Trumpian experiment. I hope for this not because I think it has happened, but because the Lord has promised hope.

The riot at the Capitol, less than a week ago, is a microcosm of these four years of Trump. Many voices cried out in worry on election day in 2016, especially Black and Brown voices, only to be disregarded. “How bad can it be?” those of us who worried were asked. “Just sit tight. It’s only four years.”

I give thanks to God that at least God took our worry and concern seriously. Through the power of God’s Spirit, God woke up resistance among those of us who knew just how bad this could get. God gave wisdom and strength to us. God gave discernment and clarity of vision. God used us as instruments of God’s peace, a peace that does not come by ignoring injustice and pain, but by seeking justice and standing against evil. But still, despite this good work, these four years have been bad. We must remember those who didn’t make it.

Four hundred thousand people in the United States have died from COVID-19. It’s an unfathomable number, but it’s at least a visible one. My heart struggles to comprehend the untold others we have lost during this administration. Those who died in detention. Those who died in prison. Those who were executed. Those who were murdered by police violence. Those who couldn’t get the medical care they needed. Those who were poisoned by the unclean water around them. Those whose mental health was pushed past the breaking point. Those who stood for justice and were silenced.

Jeremiah 31 is a chapter of promise and hope. It’s the foretelling of the joyful return of the exiles. And yet, amid this joy and hope, Rachel still weeps. That weeping is good and holy praise too, because we know that God is with us in our weeping just as surely as God is with us in our joy.
Before we celebrate the inauguration tomorrow, before we lay plans for what’s next, take time today to mourn those we’ve lost. We’ve lost far too many to move on so quickly. Light a candle, steady your heart, and mourn those we lost during the Trump years.
Jesus, God with us, God on the cross, be with us this night as we mourn. Keep us close to your heart as we weep for needless deaths. Wring each tear from our souls. Hold us as we reckon with lives that ended too soon. Receive these gifts of mourning, O God, and stay by our sides tonight and all the days to come. Amen.
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