Like many of you, this past week has been filled with many tears and unceasing prayer as almost daily I hear of the loss of lives of those made in God’s image and as I think of their dear families now filled with questions, pain, and overwhelming grief. The most recent news reports try to figure out why the lives of brave police officers who were protecting the rights of those protesting against the police could be snuffed out so violently. I sometimes write things down to figure out what is in my heart and mind, so please allow me to do just that and add words to the multitude of things that have already been written and said.
I grieve over those who are gone. Some no longer have the chance to hear about the everlasting love of our Savior. How do family members now face the days ahead without those who were so special to them?
I am amazed at the continually increasing divisions our country is experiencing. Politically we have been aware of this divide for some time. We are now becoming more and more aware of the gap between people of different races, economic classes, and _________ – you fill in the blank. We had hoped that many of those gaps were shrinking, but are now wondering if the distance is instead increasing. People with loud voices and various causes use their volume to take advantage of this divide for their own benefit and amusement. The result is that these gaps get bigger, fear grips our hearts because of what we are told of those on the other side of the gaps and anger becomes what motivates us to action. Everyone seems to have a voice and much to say, but few seem to have any desire to listen.
The Holy Spirit through the pen of James told us, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Notice the progression – we need to be very quick to listen. We must do that first, before we speak. We must hear the other person and really listen. This includes mulling over what they just said. We must think about what they said and why they said it. Even if we disagree with what we just heard, if we listen perhaps we will understand why they said it, at least a little bit. We should be quick to listen – but then slow to speak. Too often we aren’t really listening because we are thinking about what we are about to say. Our priority is not about the other person, it is all about us – what we feel, what we think and what we know should be done. Isn’t this what arguments consist of – no listening, fast talking and the next step, anger? No wonder we are so angry. We all have too much to say and too many opinions to share. And now with social media, we can share our words instantly with the world. (Yes, it is a bit ironic that I am sharing my words with the world right now.)
Now to the grief of today. Can’t we take some time to grieve? Can’t we allow families to start to say good-bye to their loved ones before we use their loved ones to further our favorite cause? Can’t we be silent as they share their doubts, their fears, their questions and their anger? Can’t we give them our presence and our hugs, but hold off on our words? There will be a time to talk about these causes. Some of them are really important. But do we need to talk about them today?
Followers of Jesus Christ, we have much to say to an angry, divided world. We have words of comfort to share with the grieving from the God of all comfort, Himself. We have words of hope about a Redeeming Savior that this world needs to hear. He is our only Hope! He is the One who can reconcile sinners like us to a Holy God such as He is, and then help us reconcile to each other. We are messengers of reconciliation! But let’s share this wonderful message after we have really listened to this hurting world.