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Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in Voices | 0 comments

Land of the Free – Home of the Hurt

Land of the Free – Home of the Hurt

 

“O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave?”

The question is stated, and the victory implicit in the anthem of the United States of America. It is a rhetorical question that demands a defiant YES! Our flag does still wave over one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all….right?

We rightly celebrate the flag, but over what kind of nation does it yet wave?

It still waves proudly over one of the nation’s most prominent landscapes – the arena of Sports. Yet on these hallowed fields, many are seeking to amplify their voices as those who question the state of liberty and justice for all.

Regardless of where you stand (or kneel) on this issue, the conclusion is the same: something is broken.

We may still be one nation. We may still be under God. But we are divided.

To be honest with you, I don’t want to write this article. Every voice in my mind and conscience swirls with derision. Don’t enter this minefield. No one needs another voice in this discussion. There’s nothing you can say that won’t get you trampled.

All of those things are likely true.

Yet what is also true is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the beauty of brothers dwelling in unity (Ps. 133:1). It is true that sometimes what is most beneficial is not an argument, but compassion. It is true that sometimes the greatest answer to the most violent of questions is simply, “I don’t know.”

A blog post can’t heal the divide in this country. I can’t aim to adequately represent any side of the argument in a way that will comfort, heal or bring clarity to a discussion far beyond my grasp. While I don’t believe I can adequately answer the question of “Would Jesus Take A Knee?” I do simply want to add a few words as a brother in Christ to those in the church and a brother in humanity to all of my countrymen over whom our flag still waves.

To whom it may concern, I just want you to know…

My heart hurts, and my spirit is cast down. I don’t know how to help.

My heart mourns because of the wicked and vile belief that the color of one’s skin is any indicator of a person’s worth, humanity or significance in the sight of God and man. I weep with so many mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who live with both the loss of dear life and fear that theirs hangs in a balance – with those who ask, what is it all for? I hate sin and how the Enemy rejoices in the playground of confusion, mistrust, pride and Scriptural abuse.

My ears ache from the shouting.

I sympathize with those who feel they have no country – those who no longer feel a protection of sorts from an idealized notion that broken men can create a secure world – those who now wonder what is behind every set of eyes that meet theirs. I want to speak gentleness to the wildest of storms, knowing my words are incomplete, and any bandage I can offer is too insignificant for the wound.

I sympathize with those who desire a greater country. One where blood spilled is not done so in vain and where protection of others is a virtue to be honored. I want to speak gratitude and thanksgiving and give honor to those to whom it is due. I want a world where heroes still exist.

With the Psalmist, I cry, “How long, Lord?!” Jesus, come soon. Restore your creation. Let your Kingdom reign where there is no more war between brothers.

My hands long to extend to those who feel they are not heard. I want to give mercy to those who would respond harshly out of past experience or those who hurt in a way that they must keep everyone at arm’s length because they feel no one can be trusted. I want to embrace you, but I don’t know how.

I want to examine myself as well as the dark corners of my own heart. O that all of us would examine not just the devils on the other side but the voices in our own ears, the sin in our own hearts, the admission that not only do we live in a world of sinful people, but that we are sinful people ourselves.

My voice recognizes its inadequacy and misplacement in a discussion of such personal magnitude. I don’t want to cry out, “Peace! Peace!” when there is no peace. But I do want peace.

There are no words I can give that will help. There is no salve from my soul big enough to save, unite or adequately call with any authority for understanding. There is no knee I can kneel, no chorus I can join and no hand I can adequately place over a heart to stop the bleeding.

The answer to all of this is found in Jesus and the Gospel. That I know. Only Christ can heal these wounds. For those who mourn and whatever you mourn for, I commend to you, in whatever fear, in whatever pain, in whatever desire, that Jesus is greater. We the people hurt not because of a creed, but because of broad and destructive manifestations of sin. Our only hope is in the blood of Christ.

We hurt. I hate it. I feel it. I don’t know what to do. I commend to you nothing but Christ. One day he will make all things new. He will set all things free.

That banner still waves. We still want to be free. We still want to be brave.

But we still hurt.

About The Author

Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith

Ryan is associate pastor at Eagle Heights Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He is the author of Not That God.

Ryan Smith has blogged 108 posts at wordslingersok.com

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