Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
This week we stepped into a period of mourning, overwhelmed by a string of deaths that remind us again that we live in a world of injustice and sorrow.
As we worked to grieve the unjust killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of the police, we awoke this morning to the news that five police officers were killed in Dallas, Texas, with seven more wounded. By dawn, our media had already shaped the narrative; fearsome and racially-charged commentary began to tear apart our national dialogue on racial justice, violence, and police accountability.
Racial violence is deeply rooted in the history of the United States.
We know that early colonizers in the United States enslaved people from the African continent. We know that the pain of black folks in our country and the rest of the world is due largely in part to the legacy of this slave trade. This history of colonization is one that catapulted our country into wealth, as American settlers profited greatly from black labor. And, even after slavery ended, we have not healed nor repaired this deep trauma, which remains encoded in our spirit and in our bodies.
Instead, violence against people of color has continued in a number of ways as racism became embedded in our legal system with Jim Crow laws, “separate but equal” ideologies, and the then-legal horrific practices of black lynchings. Because of this history, racial violence impacts all citizens of the United States, especially people of color. We remain wounded.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9 ESV
Today, and in the coming days, we are called to show our solidarity with the people on the front lines of work intended to liberate all of us from the burdens of oppression. Today, and all days, we stand to open our mouths for the rights of all who are destitute.
In particular, we recognize that today is a frightening day for black and brown people in the United States. Last night’s shooting in Texas will give those who fear the message of racial justice both license and ammunition to persecute people of color—who are always in fear for their lives. And, we already know that black and brown folks are infinitely more at risk for state violence than people who are white.
As we experience waves of shock, grief, helplessness, and fear amidst the violence of this week—we grasp for faith that might stabilize us in the midst of such great chaos.
But how can we have faith in the midst of such death and despair?
We can start by praying—praying for strength, praying for understanding, praying for healing, praying for change, praying for forgiveness, and praying for the kind of peace that only time and faith can provide. When we pray, we are reminded that we are connected to something greater than ourselves. For it is in these moments of prayer, when we connect with our creator, that we are reminded as Christians to walk by faith even when we cannot see.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
And even when we are tested in our faith—that too is a testament to our relationship with God. Faith is not faith without doubt. We cannot rush to healing when do not know the anatomy of our pain; the grief that we have traveled. Let us allow for the multitude of feelings, a deluge of contradiction as we hold all that we have lost and all that we fear.
There will be those of us who will seek comfort even as we cannot imagine the infinite source from whence it pours. There will be those who are the very manifestation of comfort and ministry. And, let us also make space for those who would pause in doubt; for those who would are not yet ready to lift their eyes in prayer because of the weight of their yearning, their weeping in process.
Join us today as we lift up the pain of black folks who are always in mourning for lives lost.
Join us today as we recognize that we are all in mourning, and we witness the pain and sorrow of all those who grieve when there is little else to do.
When the world is disrupted, when the earth is still shaking—it is okay to weep as Jesus wept.
Photo by Cristian Iohan Ştefănescu