As I have sat each morning with my daily devotions it is wonderful to be immersed in one psalm for the entire week.
What I find is that each day as I read it, a different verse or sentiment speaks to my soul.
These past two weeks have included hopeful laments… the cries of the psalmist that are answered by the end of the lines with trust, joy, and the promises of God. They are the cries of people who have been broken down but refuse to give in. The cries of people holding on to their faith in spite of everything that would take it away.
Today, after learning that yet another black church has been destroyed by arson, I read Psalm 4, hearing the pleas of my brothers and sisters in faith who are under attack.
Some are citing statistics that show this might not be a new pattern at all… that we are simply paying attention in a targeted way.
But such explaining away does not eliminate the need to ask the question #whoisburningblackchurches ?
I read the psalm this morning and imagined the brick and mortar of churches crying out for people like me to pay attention.
Answer us when we cry out, our righteous God!
Set our churches free from those who set fire to our sanctuaries!
Have mercy on us!
Listen to our prayers!
How long, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ…
How long, national media…
How long, people everywhere…
How long, will our reputation be insulted and our cries go unnoticed?
How long, society, will you continue to love what has no worth and go after lies, with trending hashtags about our age and sports figures and facebook and pinterest posts about the most amazing diet smoothie recipe and how you, too, can make money at home.
Know this: the Lord takes personal care of the faithful.
The Lord hears our churches crying out!
So be afraid. Be afraid next time you decide it would be funny to play with matches next to that old church building. Be afraid next time you let your hatred spill over to action. Be afraid next time you stand by and do nothing while the churches burn. Stop destroying the sanctuaries of our people!
Think hard about it while you sleep and weep over the hatred or indifference or foolishness in your heart.
Confess. Repent. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a contrite heart. Trust the Lord!
All around, people are saying,
“We can’t find a drop of goodness in this world.
God is dead.
There is no justice or hope or life to be found.”
But in spite of the persecution… even as our buildings smolder, even as we lay our dead into the ground, we find strength and joy in the Lord.
As our sister, Bree Newsome reflects, “I refuse to be ruled by fear.”
So we will welcome people to our prayer meetings and worship and we will close the buildings for the evening with peaceful hearts, because you alone, O Lord, are the source of safety. By your grace, we live.
Lord, have mercy.