“I lift up my eyes to the hills… from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121.1,2
Lisa shared this scripture at church and it started me thinking… We are caught in a cycle of violence in our society; where will it all end? Random shootings, violence and terrorist attacks prey on the minds of everyone these days. Another occurred a few weeks ago in Houston. They’ve become commonplace. As a Black man who lives and works in the inner city, my discomfort is not abstract, but immediate and personal. Just recently there were two more incidences of Black men shot down in the street by the police under questionable circumstances. I look up to God and cry, “when will it end?”
In the most dramatic movies and stories the protagonist struggles against his or her enemy and in the final scene where it seems all hope is lost they look up… and deliverance comes in the nick of time from the cavalry, or the police, super-powered beings or some other benefactor… but not in real life. In real life, stuff happens. In real life, children die, decent people are killed, and hope is lost.
I’ve been reading about the murder rate this year in the urban neighborhoods of Chicago, the worst it’s been in many years, particularly the west side which has the worst murder rate in the nation. On impulse, I looked at the number of shooting deaths this year in the north side communities of Minneapolis compared to its total population. These are the neighborhoods where I go daily to visit and pick up kids and volunteer and lead mentor groups with boys at school and I was not surprised to see that the murder rate was almost exactly the same.
I heard a teacher admonishing her students this week for their uncontrolled behavior at school. She said to me later, “They don’t know how hard we fight for them.” I agreed.But we do fight. Teachers, parents, families, neighbors… we all fight. In small, yet significantly important ways, we fight for our youth, our families, our communities, our nation. Don’t disparage someone who fights in a way that is dissimilar from yours… the important thing is that we are all on the same side. I have to say, I was amazed when I heard a white news person say on his program regarding recent deaths of young black men by police, “we have to figure out a way to stop this.” We… Believe it or not, this was a first for me, to hear a public personality who was white say this in a way that was not scripted, rehearsed or induced.
For the Christian who is surrounded by overwhelming evil the imperative is clear. The Bible says do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good (Romans 12. 9-21). We are not to return evil for evil, hate for hate, injury for injury… we are called instead to love one another, encourage and be kind to each other.Yes, we are surrounded by evil. But we do not lose hope. We lift up our eyes to the hills, where is our help coming from? Our Help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!