Weep with Me
God has been changing me.
As a person who attends a multi-racial church and also works in a multi-racial environment, I have been inviting God during these years of heightened racial tension in our country to teach me, develop empathy and understanding, reveal sin in me, change my perspectives, and make me look more like Jesus.
Weep with Me
As part of the process to understand what is contributing to the pain experienced by the black community, I have recently finished reading Weep with Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation, by Mark Vroegop. Lament is described by Vroegop as “the historic biblical prayer langage of Christians in pain…Laments acknowledge the reality of pain while trusting in God’s promises.” (37). Over a third of the Psalms are laments. The book ends with a challenge to write a lament using a format drawn from examples in the Bible. As part of my process to understand my heart and what I am learning, I did the assignment.
Here is my lament:
Turn to God
Oh, God, how can you bear it? My human heart breaks as I hear from so many black people in our country barraged with messages that they are less than — less beautiful, less smart, less likely to be successful, more likely to cause trouble, more likely to be poor and more likely to land in prison.
My heart hurts. I hang my head. I say I am sorry. But it feels like so little.
If my human heart is breaking, how must yours be breaking? Like Job asked forgiveness for his children (Job 1:5), like Moses asked forgiveness on behalf of the Israelites (Exodus 32:30-32), like the high priest offered sacrifices for both himself and the people (Hebrews 7:27) — I ask forgiveness for how the world has treated blacks, and how the church has done the same. As a member of the human race and as a member of the body of Christ, I stand guilty of mistreating blacks by association, by naivete for so many years, and by my silence on matters even during years when I didn’t understand I was part of the problem. I see more clearly now and have therefore become accountable.
Though racism touches every single people group, even whites, there is a difference that sets the black population apart in the racism experience. Individuals in other ethnic groups can trace their ancestry. For example, there is record of my distant grandfather’s entry into the country from Ireland by way of Ellis Island. The same is true of countless immigrants, refugees, or individuals entering by visa.
But not blacks. They were first brought to this country in chains and in ships, bypassing registration. Now, decades later, pain is still present because their history has no roots. My black brothers and sisters can’t name the country from which they came from in the continent of Africa.
The only history many blacks do have is painful to recount. We lined them up and designated job responsibilities based on lighter and darker skin. We whipped and lynched. Oh, God, my stomach lurches at what we did to fellow human beings made in the image of God and handcrafted by you for good purposes. We have committed the sin of partiality in direct opposition to your character: For God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11).
Our awareness is increasing in recent years, for which I am thankful, but I am weary of hearing my black friends and acquaintances saying, “It’s okay,” and “That’s just the way it is” as they shrug their shoulders in resignation when faced with injustice and unequal treatment. I look right back into their eyes and say, “It’s not okay! I am so sorry you experienced that treatment.” For my black friends, things like looking for a new home to purchase requires strategy and entering a store to buy clothing still comes with hovering salespeople keeping an eye on things. The thick shield of numbness that many blacks have built to withstand the constant barrage of condescension is not okay!
Thank you, God, for a shift toward increased understanding in so many hearts. Changing perspective is a tedious and fragile process that takes time. Protect each individual in the process with your very own hand. Don’t let us slip backwards! May there be forward progress only.
Keep us sickened by all acts of racism to any person of any color. But, Lord, especially heal the broken hearts of the black people in our nation that were first brought here unregistered. Thank you that not one of them is lost in your eyes. Lists that are generations long occur throughout Scripture, indicating genealogies are incredibly important to you. . You keep careful track of tribes, families, births and deaths from one generation to the next. Just like you know the numbers of hairs on each of our heads, I thank you that you know the full ancestry of each person on the planet. In you, we find connection.
There is a reason for the negro spirituals. Having nowhere else to turn in this world for familial validation, slaves turned to you. And you were there in every emotion, every making of a scar, and saw every drop of sweat in labor. Thank you that you have not let go of one person. You see each in truth, not through twisted human nature.
I trust you with the history of blacks in this country. I trust that in the end, all things will be made right, even if in eternity. I trust that your forgiveness of our wrongs is real. I trust that just because things are messy does not mean something is going wrong. Restoration always starts with some form of demolition.
Thank you that you have not lost control. The unraveling you allow helps us to see the truth and paves a way to our hearts. I rest in the quietness of faith in You as your perfect His-story unfolds amidst our imperfect history.
Picture Explanation: This week is nothing about me. There are no pictures for lament.
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