I hit an emotional wall last Monday night. The one we hit when we attend a loved one’s funeral or witness the birth of a child. My capacity, as dust of the earth, has become all so real, for I cannot comprehend the how, why, when, or what regarding the incidents in Ferguson. I reached the point in which I am reminded that I was not created to experience injustice. It points me to my need for a savior, for Jehovah-Nissi.
But it still hurts. It hurts not being able to change what has already happened, it hurts feeling ignored, it hurts feeling misunderstood but at the same time not understanding and being incapable of having all the answers.
To be honest, my hope was that this would be a different story than I’ve read about in the past. I wanted things to be different. Different than they were for Trayvon Martin (‘12), Ousmane Zongo (‘03), Oscar Grant III (‘09), Amadou Diallo (‘99), or way back to Henry Dumas (‘68). The list goes on and on creating a quilt of incidents and accidents that hurts and ultimately angers people. I hoped to see trust be built between law enforcement and the black community. For the history of fear, distrust, and hate to be put to silence, becoming an urban legend, rather than new black letter laws being implemented in black homes across America to protect and serve families.
But alongside that, I hoped for a cry of brokenness from our nation. For my friends who are not of the African descent, who will never understand what life is like for a person whose lineage is broken due to ancestors who were once considered to be subhuman. The generational sin of devaluing human beings, lingers over our country like a child who comes from a family of broken marriages. I wanted them to respond in sensitivity. To not feel like they had to defend themselves. To not isolate this situation from history and wonder why there are riots happening in the streets of a town broken by centuries of race issues.
I wanted my friends of African descent to cry out for justice rooted in love for the marginalized; not hating enemies, but fighting to forgive by leading in grace and love even when it seems undeserved. I wanted us to share in one another’s suffering, creating opportunities to experience vulnerability that leads to healing.
I found my hope in truth. The truth is that we are the unjust. Everyday we commit multiple crimes against the God who is perfectly holy and righteous. As I go through the Bible, anytime someone has an encounter with this Holy God they fall on their faces in reverence before Him.
And yet, this Holy God saw the state of man and desired to share in our suffering. Man, criminals to the glory of God, where his wrath could just wipe us out he chose to show mercy, love, and grace. He chose to do something about the injustices committed against Him.
So, he sent an advocate, the advocate we read about in 1 John: 1-2, Jesus Christ, who became man to fulfill His desire to share in our suffering. He came amongst the unjust to justify us! There he lay upon the cross, the great injustice of eternity, broken, bruised, and beaten, perfectly innocent before God, but paying the penalty for us. He died for us so that we would love him for this small interruption of eternity, called life. So that we would, through the power of the Holy Spirit, be broken enough to identify with the brokenness of others, to share in their suffering.
I, in the wake of the incidents in Ferguson, must ask myself if I am truly asking God to burden and soften my heart for people; for a burdened heart leads to an attentive, pro-active, and uncomfortable life that allows us to receive love from God for others. Am I truly seeking to understand and love people who think differently than me, who are not like me? Am I truly looking for opportunities to share in others suffering in regards to culture?
These are the questions we need to ask ourselves as we journey through the tragedies of racial tension and injustice in our country. The unique story of Christ calls us to be pro-active in finding and identifying with the pain of others. In this place of vulnerability, we will begin to fight for unity, walking hand-in-hand to seek the welfare of our nation.