The world is hurting. Hurting badly.
In America, we’ve seen the massive protests take place with the horrific and inconceivable death of George Floyd. His life expired with the whole world watching – the knee of a white police officer pinning George’s neck as he gasps for air to exclaim repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.” “I can’t breathe.” Then silence. He was no more.
Sadly, this situation again revealed how terribly broken the system is when it comes to racism. We need to do better, America. We do. And this is not the time to focus on the violence, the looting, and the rioters because that is not their cause. That is merely a distraction to not have us look at the deeper issue – the sin of racism that is allowed to coexist in society.
As my heart breaks for my African American brothers and sisters, I asked the Lord, “what can I do?” Sometimes we feel helpless and not sure how to react when we have not dealt with the degree of hatred ourselves. Thankfully, one night as I was lying in my bed, the Lord dropped a phrase in my Spirit as I was praying about it:
“STAND IN THE GAP”
To be honest, the phrase sounded familiar but I did not have a clue where it was in the Scriptures. Thanks to the search engine on my computer, I found it and here’s what it says:
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” – Ezekiel 22:30 NIV
The “gap” here represents the danger facing Jerusalem: God’s wrath is about to break through in judgment on the sinful city. It seems that the Lord is crying out to look for someone who had His heart in wanting to save that city, but alas, there was none. There was no one who desired to intercede for the Jerusalem, to confess on behalf of her, or to seek God’s mercy for her welfare. Perhaps if someone had been willing to ‘stand in the gap’, Jerusalem’s ruin could have been avoided. Yet no one stepped up to fill in the breach in the wall and judgment came.
Now to be clear, I’m not abdicating that God’s judgment has come as a result of racism, rioting, etc. What stuck out to me regarding this passage in light of what’s been taking place is our ability & desire to “stand in the gap” for our African American brothers and sisters. This event triggered for them the continual mistreatment, rejection, & injustice that many have faced throughout their lives. Just because I have not gone through it, doesn’t mean I cannot “stand in the gap” with them and for them to see justice be done.
So the question remains, “What can I do?” As a non-black, what can I do to “stand in the gap” when it comes to racism and support for African Americans?
- Connect – Although it might seem awkward, make the intentional effort to connect with those you know who are African American. Ask them how they are doing and how they feel with everything that is taking place. As Christians, we are supposed to have empathy with one another. “If one member [of the Body of Christ] suffers, all the members suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). If our heart hurts for them, let them know that you hurt with them. If you don’t, ask the Lord to be tenderhearted (Ephesians 4:32) and to have a compassionate heart with what is taking place (Colossians 3:12).
- Listen – I let my African American neighbor know that I was there for him through this ordeal we are facing. As I turned to leave, I mentioned how he could feel free to vent to me if needed and I wouldn’t be there to talk but listen. That’s when he pointed back at me and said, “THAT’S what really matters.” We have to remember when it comes to suffering, sometimes the best thing to do is to sit with the person in their pain and be there. That’s what Job’s friends did, didn’t they? (Job 2:13) It was once they started talking that they got themselves in trouble.
- Learn – I was recommended by an African American Pastor friend of mine to start reading the book, “Just Mercy”. By reading, researching, and learning, those who are not African American can better understand the mistreatment, prejudice, and injustice that they have faced and to better represent them if it happens to them again.
- Pray – Do you believe in the power of prayer? Pray for change. Pray for healing for those who are hurt. Pray that our nation can be reconciled. Pray that hearts will shift and laws will change. “We do not have, because we do not ask” (James 4:2-3). Let’s ask the Lord so that we can have the change needed.
These are just a few ways we can make a difference. It’s not enough to recognize that there is a problem, but taking steps towards fixing the problem. “Standing in the gap” requires intentional effort. It requires action. It requires sacrifice. I hope that this blog will spur you on towards love and good deeds as you seek the Lord in how you will stand in the gap for our African American brothers and sisters.
Have a blessed week!
“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8