My family moved to Ferguson when I was six months old. Aside from my first year of marriage, I have lived here my entire life. This is my city. What follows are reflections from these events from my perspective…
I have written and rewritten this post several times on paper and in my head. Depending on the day and time of day, the emotions and thoughts in my head have varied. I have been angry, sad, partial, frustrated, proud, scared, embarrassed (at my race), hopeless, hopeful, faithless and faithful and probably many others that I cannot articulate.
Some of the things that I have written and deleted are telling stories of things that have happened. I have found that internet story telling about events in Ferguson do not help the situation because of perspectives of the tellers and readers of those stories vary. Misunderstanding and anger result. The last thing we need here is more misunderstanding and anger, so you will get no stories from me in this forum.
I want to say two things most of all. First, we need to learn from others, especially those that are different from us. Not just in terms of skin color. We need to learn from people from different cultures, skin colors, belief systems, perspectives. This situation has taught me that. Foremost, I do not know what it is like to grow up and participate in society as a black man. I do not understand the privileges that I have been afforded because I am white and a part of the middle class. I do well to understand those things.
This piece has opened my eyes to privilege. This piece is from a black pastor in Atlanta. He is married to a white woman. In the piece he tells of being pulled over and frisked while driving with his wife. While he was being frisked, his wife was asked if she was being held against her will. I have since found out that a bi-racial couple in my church has had the same thing happen to them. That sounds like something that would happen in 1965 Alabama and not in 2014 St. Louis or Atlanta. It is real and it does happen.
The hurt, frustration, pain, anger that is created by that over and over and over has to wear on a culture. James 1:19 tell us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. The events of this week have reinforced that. I have many times been quick to inject my opinion. We do well to listen.
The second thing that this has taught me is the supreme value of faith. Faith changes your perspective. It gives you a place from which to hope. It gives you a lens through which to view hard things. It is one of the most incredible gifts that God has given to the Christian. Lamentation 3 and the Steadfast Love of the Lord, Hebrews 6:19 and hope as an anchor for our soul, Romans 8:28 and God working all things for the good of those who love him, the story of Noah, the story of Joseph being left for dead and sold into slavery and those events leading to the redemption of man, the writing of the ultimate penitent Psalm 51 after a terrible murder and act of adultery, the injustice done to Jesus and his quiet and willing involvement in it.
These are all evidences that God loves us and cares for us. In the middle of the most difficult of times, Jesus is walking with you with a plan to show himself to be strong enough and loving enough. Psalm 91 is true regardless of what is happening around you. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is strong tower, the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” That is true; even in the most difficult of circumstances. Faith is the provider of hope and perspective. Faith is an incredible gift.
I pray that when the darkness and the evil capabilities of this world show themselves in your circumstances, that God would give you an overflowing portion of faith and your response to experiencing it would be one of worship and adoration. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis who said,
I have tried to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One mustof course give thanks, but I mean something different…. Gratitude exclaims very properly: ‘How good of God to give me this.’ Adoration says: ‘What must be the character of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.
God is good.