By the time you read this blog entry, you will most likely be aware of the bombing that occurred today in on of Moscow’s busiest airports. At the time of this writing, 35 are dead and more than 125 injured. We don’t know many details other than this: someone walked into a bustling airport, full of life and movement, and brought death in the form of a suicide bombing.
It is moments like these that I ache to know the healing power and presence of God at work in the world. This event is one of the many horrible things that have and are occurring worldwide even now. Today 26,000 children will die of starvation. People will be maimed and killed by landmines. Someone’s sister or mother will be diagnosed with cancer. A marriage will dissolve.
It’s easy enough, in light of today’s tragedy, to feel despair instead of sadness. To be overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of real pain in the world.
And, yet, we have a God who weeps with us. Instead of despair, we can feel God’s sadness alongside our own. Instead of consuming the updates in a voyeuristic manner (which I will confess can be my tendency when events like this happen so far away, and yet so close to home), I can lean into spiritual practices that bring compassion instead of consumption to the forefront. I can pray. I can fast. I can weep with those who weep. I can be present to the pain, instead of running from it.
In our upcoming print issue of Conversations, we have a wonderful article by author and blogger, Scot McKnight. It’s an excerpt from his book on fasting, and in it, he writes,
At the very core of fasting is empathy with the divine or participation in God’s perception of a sacred moment. When someone dies, God is grieved; when someone sins, particularly egregiously, God is grieved; when a nation is threatened, God is grieved. We could provide more examples. The point is this: fasting identifies with God’s perspective and grief in a sacred moment. Fasting enables us to identify with how God views a given event; fasting empowers us to empathize with God.
I know that I am grieved by the loss and pain in Moscow today, and I am aware that God is much more deeply grieved than I am. Today, the impact of my spiritual practices comes to the forefront, as I seek to feel the heart of God for His people in this sacred, grievous moment. Today, I will fast. I invite you to join me, if you feel so called.
Tara M. Owens is the senior editor of Conversations Journal. A certified spiritual director with Anam Cara Ministries (www.anamcara.com), she practices in Colorado and around the world. She is profoundly grateful to do ministry and life with her husband and best friend, Bryan. She is working on an upcoming book from InterVarsity Press on spirituality and the body. If you’d like to continue the conversation with Tara, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follower her on Twitter at t_owens.