Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy burst onto the scene 1000 Narnian years after the creation of Narnia. One hundred years earlier, the tree that kept Jadis (the White Witch) at bay died, and she usurped power. Many creatures joined her in sustaining her painful rule. She declares she is “her imperial majesty Jadis, Queen of Narnia, Chatelaine of Cair Paravel*, Empress of the Lone Islands”.
The followers of Aslan long for the day when he will return and set the world to rights. Where is Aslan? Why does he take so long in coming to set things right?
We join with the longing hearts of Narnia. Where is the promised king? What’s keeping him? What is he doing?
The Need for Compassion
The Gallup organization tells us that people need four things from their leaders: hope, trust, stability, and compassion. When the people’s hearts ache and stretch with longing, leaders drench people with compassion.
Compassion rooted in honest lament and longing is the reality for those who follow the king. Psalm 44 (Paul quotes a bit of this Psalm in Romans 8)
“If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression? We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.” (Psalm 44:20–25)
Leaders hear the cry of their people (and even join the cry), “Awake Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever….”
Hearing the Lament
Compassionate leaders hear the lament of the people. They honor the outcry of the people. They discern ways to give voice to the lament of the people. Tod Bolsinger reminds us,
Laments are prayers that face the brutal facts of our world, the pain points of our lives, and the challenges of our callings, and invites God right into the swirl of that disturbing moment as the one who is the primary and responsible actor during each crisis. Laments remind us that our capacity to lead in the world, especially when leading at the place of despair, resistance, and the failures of nerve and heart, is met with the power of the God who is present and is active. The change leader is made stronger, like Jacob, through brutally honest wrestling with God in prayer about the brutal facts of our lives. As Old Testament scholar John Goldingay says, “The psalms give a lot of space to describing, protesting, and lamenting . . . the psalms are very general in what we ask God to do, and very detailed about our need.” Tod Bolsinger, Tempered Resilience
Slowly and full of grace, leaders take people on the winding road of lament. They may speed up on a short stretch of straight road but know how to pump the brakes for the curve.
Wise leaders know that the outcry is never just of the people; they too have hearts that cry out. They speak their own words of lament to God. And in this time of lament, they pay careful attention to their longings and lament.
We live in a world and a moment in time chocked full of reasons for lament. Leaders step into the weeping of the people and their own lament with hearts full of mercy and understanding.
*”Lewis’s choice of the name ‘Cair Paravel’ is a combination of ‘cair’ meaning walled city or castle, and ‘paravail,’ meaning beneath or under (a ‘tenant paravail’ holds property under another person who is himself a tenant). Cair Paravel thus means something like ‘Castle Under Castle’. Since Lewis believed humanity is made in the image of God, he thought there would inevitably be a reflection of divine kingship in human nature…” (From Planet Narnia). The reign of Jardis is thus doubly painful. Not only is she not the rightful ruler, but she also fails to rule in the ways of Aslan’s father, the emperor over the sea.