We awaken this morning to reports of even more horrible violence in our nation, with the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers, and wounding others, at an otherwise peaceful protest against the shooting of African American men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. The level of violence in all of these events is both shocking and overwhelming, and we, like the Psalmist, wonder how long we will be left to face these tragedies.
Our prayers go up for the victims in all of these events, their families, and their communities. We pray for police officers everywhere who do incredibly difficult and dangerous work every day. We also pray for those who don’t feel safe when confronted by police. We pray for an end to the violence that feels all too common. We pray for peace.
I wonder, however, when I hear the Psalmist’s cry, if perhaps God isn’t responding with the same question – “how long?” How long will you allow yourselves to be consumed by fear? How long will you allow your anxiety to guide your actions? How long will you hide the light of Christ that is the hope of the world? How long will you stand by paralyzed while race divides you, fueling hatred and violence?
We must not allow fear to consume us. We must let God’s light shine through the mist of anxiety. We must be diligent in our work to confront and end racism, and support efforts to reconcile the police and those they protect. Instead of waiting for God, we must realize that God has been waiting for us.
That Psalm that begins with the cry of “how long?” quickly turns a few verses later to hope: “But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. Yes, I will sing to the Lord because he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6) We must not be consumed by despair, but instead live in the sure and certain faith that God is, and will be, our salvation.