We’ll be honest, the past week has been tough to process. My family and I just returned from camping over the weekend to celebrate Adam and Tobias’ birthdays. It was really shocking and devastating coming back and seeing cities burning, rioting, racial injustice coming to the forefront and just so much unrest. It’s so painful seeing this and very hard to process how to react. Not to mention where we are coming from already with so much loss, stress and chaos from Covid and the effects of the lockdown. There’s just so many huge issues going on out there, like hunger/poverty (around 9 mil literally starve to death every year according to The World Counts), medical malpractice (which killed 400,000 in 2019 alone), sex-trafficking, unemployment, small business loss. It’s all heart-breaking and I know many of you may be deeply hurt by what’s going on right now, please hang in there.
Living in Hawaii, we are so separated from what’s happening and it can be relatively easy to ignore it and wait for things to “blow over.” However this is not what I’m choosing to do, these issues need to be confronted in a thoughtful way. We believe we all need to approach these issues thoughtfully.
As a Christian, my life is guided by God’s Word. His Truth, His love, His Word is relevant every day. Our faith is what grounds us. But times like these seem extra overwhelming, and as I was searching for comprehension, I came across a video by someone we really respect, Pastor Bryan. This last Sunday he was driving from his Church in Austin, TX to the other Church he serves at across town. He witnessed the rioting first hand and he recorded some impactful insights I wanted to share with you, in my own words.
First off, we all have sinned (Romans 3:23).
We are all guilty of doing wrong, satisfying selfish desires, and not loving one another as we ought to. When someone in an authority position sins against another, that hurts way more. Just for example, if two people were to come and punch me in the face, both equally as hard, the same amount of teeth knocked out and everything. But one person was a stranger and the other was my father. The punch from my father, my authority figure, would have such an awful affect on my life, it hurts way more in a different way!
So when people in authority positions sin against others, like when governors/mayors/presidents strip civil freedoms from us, when racial inequality is systemic and comes from a history of abuse, when a doctor makes the wrong decision, or when a police officer abuses or kills someone, those circumstances leave us feeling deeply hurt, confused, and angry. This is when the devil loves to tempt us. We are tempted to despise all authority over us. We are tempted to take matters into our hands, to seek vengeance, to riot, and to make bold statements without thoughtfulness. We are tempted to seek self-righteous reasons that make doing those things seem right.
So how does God call us to act during times such as these?
God’s people have a long history of facing oppression and civil unrest, and He has always been faithful. God calls us to pray. Many people see prayer as a last resort, when things are the worst, there’s nothing left that we can do. This is not understanding prayer properly. Prayer is calling upon our gracious and powerful God to come into these situations, to heal the brokenness in our culture, to bring justice where it is needed, to bring equality and heal those that need to be healed. In Exodus, God saw the affliction and heard the cry of His people suffering. He did not stand idly by, God delivered them from the oppression. Over and over we see examples of God listening to our prayers and the prayers of His people. Prayer is not a last resort, it is what we should be doing at all times. I am thankful to be reminded to pray.
We are also called to love. Mark 30:31 says “’Love your neighbor as yourself’ there is no greater commandment than these.” It is hard to love when we are deeply hurt, when we have strong emotions of vengeance, when we see so much wrongdoing, injustice and inequality around us. These times are opportunities to love one another in ways that may not make sense to those who don’t believe… Romans 12:19-21 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
We have the opportunity to do good to one another! We can make those that are oppressing look silly (heap coals on their head), by setting aside our selfish desires, and putting others in front of ourselves. This is where we can act with impactful action towards others, towards a worthy cause in a loving manner. Remember love stirs up action. We do believe in peaceful protest, let our voices be heard, and we believe that the authority and their systems need to be above reproach. Let us also remember that ultimately we have the biggest impact on those we interact with day to day.
Moving forward we will be aware, and will have more intentional conversations with our kids, family, and friends. We’re going to do our best to be informed on who we vote for; leaders that will stand up for the best interest and voice of the public. Let’s think critically about all these issues, take steps that improve our situation, and shine a light into the lives of others that need it.
Yes, now is also a time for deep reflection as well, to look within ourselves, to be convicted if we have not loved one another as we should. The amazing thing is when we repent of our wrongdoing, we are forgiven by our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God! And we can renew our spirit, renew our minds, and are given the power and opportunities to love those around us even better! So as we experience the chaos and brokenness of this world, let it remind us to pray, let it remind us that we belong to the Kingdom of the Most High, let these atrocities remind us to love those around us as Christ loved us. If you’re not a Christian, our hope is that you can see the value of holding to these principles and aim to have constructive and meaningful conversations with one another.
Much love and peace,
Adam & Bethany