My thoughts (Lynnette Pullen):
While cleaning one day some time ago, I happened to glance down and saw some of my son’s homework. Sitting on top was a list entitled “Ten Things that Scare Me.” Intrigued and a little nosey, I read it. 1. Big and poisonous spiders. No surprise there! 2. Walking in dangerous neighborhoods. 3. Close lightning bolts (but he wants to be a storm chaser!). 4. Getting an F in English. 5. Police officers. My heart instantly sank into my stomach. I never made it to number 6. Subconsciously, I whispered, “Me too.” Tears of fury filled my eyes as I struggled to figure out how to deal with this. I wish I could tell him not to be afraid, but honestly, he’s right to be. Although it’s been making headlines lately, police brutality is not a new phenomenon. Think of it. Even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fell victim to such heinousness; the taunting, the beating, the crown of thorns. It was as gut wrenching then as it is now. A mother standing on the sidelines screaming, begging for the life of her son, being forced to watch as he is ruthlessly beaten. There is nothing so scary than to be at the mercy of an authority figure who sees fit to freely intimidate, harass, beat, and at times murder those they swore to protect.
Angry and full of fear for not only my child but for many others, I went to God and said, “Where are you? I’m tired of watching this happen! This is too big for me to stop. How can I fight back? I’m scared to send my baby out into this world. I’m scared to even let him walk down the street.” I could feel myself sliding down the slippery slope of hate. Just the sight of a badge was beginning to ignite a dark fire in the pit of my spirit that was increasingly difficult to smother. I don’t want to be that way. That’s not who I am. Common sense says that all police officers are not like this, and that this world is not full of killers. The reality is that some wear ski masks, and unfortunately some of them wear badges. Some of them take sadistic pleasure in killing, while others carry the burden of knowing they had to take a life to save another. Just like I don’t want to be labeled because of the actions of a few, I refuse to fall into the trap of doing the same to them, but I can’t ignore the fact that the barrel of a police officer’s gun is aimed more at people who look like my son than any other group in society.
While I am not entirely sure how to reconcile these blatant and offensive realities, I do find comfort in Psalm 73. It seems as though the psalmist, too, struggled with feelings of oppression and persecution, remarking in verse 14, “All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments” (NIV). However, after some venting, the psalmist seems to settle here in verse 28, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds”(NIV). That proves to be good advice for me. I need to be closer to God while I wrestle with this. I need to spend less time watching the news and more time reading God’s Word to understand how to deal with the wicked and how to use the power of prayer to protect my son . . . your son . . . our sons. For now, I will rest my spirit in God’s ultimate and supreme authority, knowing that the righteous will never be forsaken, even when it appears they have been. I will trust in what I do not see, hear, or even perceive. Like the old folks used to say, “A change gon’ come.” I will pray fiercely and fervently for safety and protection. I will remind myself day in and day out of the many times God stepped in and prevented harm from coming my way. I will continue to do right and refuse to be seduced into doing wrong by virtue of hate.
Oddly enough, as I was concluding my thoughts, I went to google Psalms one more time to read over the verse again. Somehow Psalm 37 instead of 73 was pulled up. I couldn’t help but think it was God answering my plea. Please, take just a few minutes to read it, as it is too long to include here. It was just what I needed to hear in this moment. Maybe it will encourage you, too.
Prayer for the day: God, let me be honest and say that I am struggling with feelings that dangerously border on hate. I am fearful of what will happen to the many young men, whom we call sons, as they enter this world. I know these feelings are not from you. I am overwhelmed with grief at the utter disregard for human life. Please direct my path, order my steps, guide my tongue, and hold my hand as I try to parent my kids through this issue. Please protect our children from those that wish to cause them harm. Send angels to be with them as they venture further and further away from home. Give them wisdom and self-control as they enter hostile environments. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.