It doesn’t end. Weeks after the tragedy at Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, we have witnessed the tragedies of the death of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and a mass shooting that killed 5 police officers in Dallas.
God have mercy.
As a Christian, I struggle to know what to say. I started and re-started writing this post several times feeling like my words can’t do justice to the evil that we can so easily read about. Systemic racism, the death of family members, and a little girl comforting her grieving mother, God help us.
The Laments of David take on new meaning for many in the black community and the police force:
Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me. - Psalm 86:1-7
When the world around us weeps, we weep for them and with them. When our communities are hurting, we hurt with them and for them. When our neighbors our bleeding on the side of the road, we don't pass by on the other side. As Christians our calling is not investigation, but to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Our calling is what Paul describes when he writes in Galatians to “bear one another’s burdens.”
It’s time to pray. To pray for the families of Alton and Philando. To pray for the families of the police officers. It’s time to pray for communities. It’s time to pray for those whom God has called to protect us. It’s time to pray for those who don’t have the same privileges that you and I have.
Grace in the Midst of Suffering
Tragedies like this tend to give us more questions than answers. Questions like “why” and “how” will often leave us stuck looking for a justification or satisfaction but without ever giving us what we need.
There are far more questions that this tragedy raises that I don't have answers to than ones I do.
But here’s what I do know: God hates evil and injustice so much that he goes to the cross.
Grace doesn’t eliminate the pain and suffering. Grace doesn’t undo the gunshots, ignore the racism, or pretend that lives were never lost. Grace gives to us Christ who is with us and for us in the midst of the mess. @@Jesus jumps straight into the mess and gets covered in blood to meet you where you are.@@ He hears your cries and gives himself in response.
Jesus not only substitutes himself for the worst of sinners on the cross, He rescues the people hurt by the most evil of sins. When the evil of the world shouts with deafening screams making it harder and harder to hear the voice of God, Jesus speaks back with a voice that silences all other voices.
@@The cross shouts back at the evils of injustice with the promise, “It is finished.”@@
Do you want to know how Jesus feels about racial injustice and mass shootings? Look to the cross. Jesus abhors evil so much that he gives up everything to go to war against it. In our helplessness to fight back and to right the wrongs, Jesus does what we can’t. Jesus comes for those who are helpless and hurting. He binds up their wounds, he weeps with them, and he gives himself freely. The violence and hate don’t get the last word. The racial tensions and the blood on the streets don’t get the last word. Jesus, who gave himself for you, does.