I was feeling really down about life and the world earlier this week. Over the last week or so I was reading and watching a lot of things that were weighing very heavy on my heart. I read Ta-Nahisi Coates article in The Atlantic “The Case for Reparations”, which gets into all the horrible things that African-Americans have endured in America. I followed that up by watching “The Normal Heart” on HBO, which is a movie adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play about the beginning of the AIDS crisis and how much it was ignored and how horribly early AIDS patients were treated because it was viewed as a gay disease. Then a few nights later we caught up with a Frontline from a few weeks ago about the prison system in America and what a revolving door it is and how there are better ways we should be dealing with things that land many people in prison rather than incarcerating them.
In addition to watching these super uplifting things I was also reading “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League” by Jeff Hobbs. I had an advanced reader’s copy, but I would recommend reading it once it is released in September. It’s the heartbreaking story of a brilliant young man who against all odds went to Yale University and yet could not overcome his past ending his life in tragic fashion. On top of that I spent the week reading hundreds of tweets filling my feed with the hashtag #yesallwomen detailing all the horrible things that women have to deal with on a daily basis just because they are women, and then of course hearing about all the awful things said in response to people tweeting under that hashtag.
Then Thursday I read an article about how a large group of 50 or so teenagers after being kicked out of the Druid Hill Park pool crossed the street to the reservoir and stole all the bikes used for the Ride Around the Reservoir program put on by the city effectively ending the program for the year if not forever. I walk around the reservoir frequently during the warm weather months, and though I have never borrowed a bike myself I loved seeing people riding around the reservoir on those cruisers from individual adults to families riding together. It was was always a program I thought was great and now thanks to some punk kids who have no respect for anyone else it’s gone.
So needless to say by the end of the week I was feeling pretty awful and hopeless about the world. Pretty much all of these things are systemic problems deeply rooted and not easily eradicated, and they all just make me feel helpless to do anything about them. But then because God is good the sermon at my church this morning was literally about these things. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally I go to church and think wow that sermon was exactly for me today and today was one of those days.
We’re in the middle of a sermon series entitled Reconciliation and today the pastor talked a lot about almost all of these issues that have been weighing on my heart this week. It is not God’s plan for people to be divided by race, by gender, by economic level, or by anything else. There is nothing easy about the task we have been called to, but as God’s people we are called to reconcile with those around us. There are no easy answers and no easy ways to solve all of these problems, but I do not need to feel helpless and hopeless about them because there is a power greater than myself at work and I just need to do my part in bearing it out. I’m not sure what that means for me going forward at this point, but I do know that the defeatest attitude I had about all of this earlier in the week is not it. If nothing else I can work on loving other people no matter who they are and no matter what differences there are between us.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” — Ephesians 2:14