She calls out, screaming for a place to sleep, for safety, for provision.
Praising Jesus followed with moaning and groaning.
She calls out for God to fight for her against forces beyond her control.
High praise and lament converge. Her voice carries into the streets. Her desperation resonates.
The journey alongside my sister, referenced above, has been awakening. Awakening to realities of desperation in our society, and the call for the local church to stand side by side with those who are suffering. All too often the local church of dominant culture hears the cries of desperation from marginalized brothers and sisters and assumes the role of Obi-wan Kenobe in Star Wars, receiving a desperate plea from Princess Leia to save the day. The cries of the suffering are met with invitations to salvation, when it is we who need saved.
The cries of the suffering must awaken us to be saved from starving isolation. The posture of dominant culture expects assimilation as a form of unity and diversity. We must be saved into a learning posture, which embraces and grows in an understanding of God’s transforming power through the diverse beloved global community.
The cries of the suffering must awaken us to be saved from blindness. The denial of the caste system in society, which is driven by an ever-increasing wealth gap, is perpetuated by a commitment to numbers in thriving demographics, over the quality and equity of human life in the margins.
The cries of the suffering must awaken us to be saved from silence and inaction. Sanctity of life is honoring the image of God woven into humanity at every stage of life. May the cries of the suffering draw us beyond the active love for the lives of humanity in the womb, to include active love for the lives of humanity bleeding out in the streets and in school hallways, for the lives of humanity fleeing war, for the lives of humanity needing access to healthcare and housing. May we embrace all image bearers not just equally, but equitably.
The cries of the suffering must awaken us to be saved from division. Walls of separation keep the privileged at a comfortable “safe” distance from the oppressed. May we be saved from dehumanizing power stands on positions, into standing side by side with our brothers and sisters mistreated, exploited and suffering in the margins of society.
The faith of my sister crying out from that worn chair on the porch, declares boldly and passionately, her only hope is in Jesus. Those falling into categories that society would determine as the least, are calling the local church to be changed by the power of the love of God. This resonating call converges the harsh realities concerning the state of society — into the harsh realities of the state of the local church and our unified hope in Jesus.
May our lives harmonize with the words of the hymn: “We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand. And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land. And they’ll know we are Christians, by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” As we walk, may God’s transforming power be released. May God’s kingdom come and will be done, here in our midst, as it is in heaven.
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you had endured a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions … Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters … Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 10:32-34; 13:1,3).
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:9-10)