I appreciate Jenna starting two prayer times for justice this week. First, I appreciate how the Holy Spirit enabled her to weep over what has been happening in our nation. Secondly, she is correct that while it is hard to know what to do sometimes, we can pray which does change things. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16, NIV)
I also want to repeat what I exhorted us to do on Sunday, which is to listen to others, especially our black brothers and sisters. James also wrote that “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (1:19). I spoke at length last week with an African American pastor and friend, and he shared with me that one of the hardest things for him is when he shares with a believer about the hardships that he has experienced as a black man living in America, and the believer does not get it. They just gloss over it or try to soothe how he feels. He said this often weighs on his heart and discourages him: If a fellow believer in Christ does not empathize or understand, what hope is there?
I don’t want us to do this. Rather Paul tells us to “weep with those who weep”. Listening and empathizing with others around racism can be awkward. But we must press through and listen and share their lament. The Holy Spirit will help us to do so, but we must choose to embrace the effort.
Last night I happened, by God’s hand I believe, to watch a video of a black ESPN sports analyst named Marcus Spears, share his heart. I found out later that he was an NFL defensive lineman for nine years and is also a believer, and his spirit came through as he spoke. He said he is thankful to live in America, to see people of all colors protesting peacefully together, and is grateful to white people who have helped him advance his career.
But the killing of unarmed black men by our police who are to protect and serve has to stop. He then became emotional and had to pause to compose himself as he finally said, “my eleven year old son asked me ‘why didn’t he get off of him?'”
Out of the mouths of children.
Father, we need your grace and help to listen and to feel and to grieve with those who grieve. Please help us. Help us to abhor what is evil and to cling to what is good. Please heal our nation. Let Your Kingdom come and Your will be done. May the death and pain and turmoil produce repentance and turning to You and healing and lasting change in our society.
“Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.”
Listening and praying with you,