Racial tensions have exposed a life-long loss of respect and normalcy for our Black brothers and sisters. Even the inability of White people to understand, represents a loss. And this loss is not just situational, but it can represent a lifetime and generations of loss. It is a constant background of grief.
The recent tragedy of George Floyd's murder has shocked many of us to engage with that grief. I tell my clients, that I cannot "fix" your grief but I can certainly walk with you in grief and be your ally. I can listen and seek to understand. As a family we should all do this. Listen, ask questions, look for hurts and offer empathic responses. Ask how you can help or take initiative to action. Check this out. This is the heart of Jesus. Silence is sin.
Yes, there is One, greater that even an ally – Jesus. He speaks words of healing and offers compassion and comfort. Let's look at a few of those words:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matt. 11:28-29
This is the only place in the Bible that Jesus describes his own heart. When He has the opportunity to describe His heart, what does He say? "Get over it and move on"? "Toughen up"? "Time will heal all wounds"? No, Jesus says, Come to me...for I am gentle and humble...in heart. In Jesus, we find a caring and gentle man. He accepts us in all of our distress, no matter what. In a world of chaos, confusion, and conflict, we find in Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the ability to calm our burdened soul and find rest.
You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:32-33
Jesus understood isolation and loneliness. Often we feel this as well. My Black brothers and sisters have shared this with me. In the midst of their pain, they often live in isolation. People don't seem to understand or worse, others may not believe their pain and grief. Again, this is not situational, but a lifelong reality.
Jesus here leaned on his relationship with God when others left him. He intuitively turned to his Father in times of isolation. You see it on the mountain, in the early morning prayer times, and especially during the Passion Week as He went to the cross. When times are toughest, find your God. Speak with Him. As many psalmists did, honestly pour your heart out to your loving Father. He listens and cares.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? – Matthew 6:26
Jesus emphasizes and raises our value. Remember your identity in Christ. We do not find our identity in our losses, our pain, our sin, or anything else that the world may use as identifiers. We are all shaped by a variety of experiences, labels, and situations that tend to mark us. But at the very core of who we are, we are "in Christ," in His loving arms full of grace, safety, and compassion.
This phrase is found over 90 times in the New Testament. As we engage with grief on a personal and societal level, as we fight to understand and to change, as we struggle what to do next, let us remember that we are "in Christ." My identity lies in Jesus. He is my salvation, my shield, my hope, my all.
May God bless you as you walk with Him in 2020!