There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in- a lyric from Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” that seems to resonate with most everyone who is familiar with the song. It is, obviously, the line that sets the theme of the piece- the theme of hope in the middle of dark places and dark times.
We are indeed living in dark times. Oh, I don’t intend to give a list here of examples of the darkness in our world. The point of this whole entry is to express the weariness that is in my spirit when I see the evidence of this darkness.
And I want to say this: Yes, I see it. All of it. All of the ugliness and meanness that people do to each other. I hear it. All of it. All of the hatred and demoralizing and dehumanizing that goes on. I see it. I hear it. Just like you do.
But look. I can’t be outraged anymore. I just cannot continue to summon the emotional energy to carry around a burden of anger for every injustice both great and small. It’s too much for me, and what’s more, I am not by nature an angry person. For so long I tried to fill my heart and spirit with the politically correct rage and anger all-day-every-day. I soon realized it was turning me into a person I didn’t want to be, and further, it was killing my spirit. I fully believe that anger is meant to be a temporary emotion that is used to indicate the need for a solution to a problem and for the repairing of relationships. We are not meant to live in a constant state of anger, especially when that anger does nothing to seek solutions and unity.
Some may say that a lack of outrage is a lack of concern, that those of us who are not screaming for peace and justice are unaffected. That just isn’t true at all. No, I am very strongly affected by it all. On the contrary, when I began to rebuke that feeling of anger that I had taught myself to feel, the response that began to take over was one of brokenness.
What I have realized is that anger and outrage breed more and more hate. Yes, we are to hate evil so please don’t misunderstand me here. However, hating evil has clearly gotten confused in the hearts and minds of many with hating the people we associate with that evil. Hatred is destructive no matter on which side of the issues you stand. Hatred is always destructive.
Brokenness, however, breeds love. Not love for the evil and injustices in the world, but love for those who are suffering. Love for victims, love for enemies- a love that seeks justice and peace through prayer first, through acts of mercy and grace and kindness. Where hate is destructive, love is constructive; hate tears down, love builds up; hate destroys, love repairs.
Brokenness causes me to look for real-life solutions and to act on them; outrage causes me to look for better arguments for my cause. Brokenness increases my concern over injustices by allowing me to feel true empathy for the downtrodden and victimized. Outrage increases my sense of smugness over the “rightness” of my cause. Brokenness is centered around doing. Outrage is centered around rhetoric. Brokenness makes me hospitable. Outrage makes me hostile.
See Cohen kind of had it right- our broken places do allow light to get in, and Scripture does speak of how the Lord favors those who are of a broken spirit. The great thing for us, however, is that these broken places also allow light to get out.
For those of us who are Christ followers, we are to be ablaze with the light of Christ, lighting the way for those in the dark places in this world to see their way to Him. When our hearts are full of anger and rage, His light in us is dim, and what we give out is just more of the same. But when we respond to our world with brokenness, turning to Him for our answers, He shines through us. He uses us as instruments of His light in the darkness.
I challenge my brothers and sisters in Christ to live for a moment not as individuals filled with outrage, spewing out hate and name-calling, but as His Church, His bride, unified in our brokenness, joining our light together to come against the hatred and evil with the one thing that can heal- the love of Jesus.