Another human being was gunned down. In the streets. On his regular run. His name was Amhaud Arbery. He was a black man. This may be an extreme situation. It may be unique. It may require nuance to understand. But it is not uncommon. Botham Jean was shot on his couch. Atatian Jefferson was shot in her home. She was playing video games with her nephew.
Am I leaving out some facts? Sure.
Is there more to these stories? No doubt. Should that matter? To an extent.
The fact is America is a deeply racialized society. Always has been. That’s kind of what colonizing is, if we’re honest. Before New York was a new York, it was called something else by someone else. And then there was slavery. And more.
The more things change, the more they stay the same
Life is objectively and historically difficult for black Americans. Traumatic, even. When I saw the video of Amhaud Arbery trying to avoid two men who blocked off his path, hopped out of their vehicle, and pulled out firearms, causing an understandable struggle to ensue – which ended Arbery’s life – it made me sick. That feeling of disgust was compounded by the reality that this horrific loss of life is “another one.”
As a white pastor serving in one of the nation’s most segregated cities, this messes me up. Not for my sake, necessarily, but because of how it impacts my friends. And their kids. I reached out to my friends to check in on them, let them know I was praying for them, and ask if there is anything I can do.
My black friends communicated that they can’t articulate how traumatizing this is. How sick of it all they are. How upset they are that they are not more upset or surprised. How afraid they are to just take a jog, now.
Can you imagine the anxiety you might feel if you did not know if you would make it home if you went for a run in the middle of the day? The fear and anxiety would be crippling.
I wish there was something I could. My heart breaks. A big part of me wishes I could change places. I wish I could take on the skin of my friends so that they could have some reprieve from this nightmare. Not because I think I could handle any of this any better. Not because I think I could fix anything. Just because I want to do something. At least share in the suffering. Even if I could swap skin, though, that would not heal the pain or stop the bleeding.
Borken to heal
Which makes me drop to my knees and thank God for His great mercy. From His throne in heaven, looking at this broken world from the perspective of eternity – God did take on our skin. The Son of God became a human being.
He put on our flesh to fix every problem and heal every pain at its source. He knows what it is to be falsely accused of crimes He did not commit. He knows what it is to be hunted down. He knows what it is to be executed in broad daylight. Jesus died an unjust death at the hands of unjust men to put an end to injustice – by taking it on Himself. The Son of God did more than take on our flesh. He took on our sin. So that it could be crucified with Him and we could be reconciled to God by faith in Christ. He shed His blood to end the bleeding. It is finished.
Three days after He was crucified, He conquered the grave. He ascended into heaven and promised to come back. When He does, He will wipe away every tear from every eye. Sin and death will be no more. Peace and joy – Shalom – will reign.
Take up our cross
So now, through faith in Christ, I can follow His lead and walk into the pain, brokenness and suffering of my brothers and sisters. Not with answers. But to share in their suffering. Because Jesus shared in mine.
For those who are shaken to your core – you can know that since Jesus suffered for you, He will now suffer with you. And that, not as a helpless victim. But as a conquering King. Who is full of mercy and compassion. He knows our pain better than we ever will.
The cross and resurrection guarantee that one day every wrong will be made right. Until that day, we lament. We pray, “how long o Lord?” “May your Kingdom come and your will be done.” “Let justice roll.”
Or perhaps, let justice run. Amen.