O Lord, our Rock and our Refuge in times of trouble, there is indeed a longing in our hearts for you. The brokenness of the world seems to have run its banks this week. In times of both joy and sorrow, we look to your Word. In it, we may not find answers but we will always find your promises. And so we return your words to you as we seek words of life.
Rescue us from evil people, LORD! Guard us from violent people who plot evil things in their hearts, who pick fights every single day! They sharpen their tongues like a snake’s; spider poison is on their lips. Protect us from the power of the wicked, LORD! Guard us from violent people who plot to trip us up! – Psalm 140:1-4 (CEB)
Wars rage in every part of this world – it seems we cannot get enough of violence. Thousands have died in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria – and millions have been separated from their families and displaced from their homes. We make war so well; teach us to make peace.
In Venezuela and Kenya, those in power seek more while the people they have been entrusted with suffer in fear, uncertainty, and violence. The nations of the world rage, spending money on weapons of death rather than investing in life. We are so creative in ways to kill each other.
We tell the LORD, “You are our God! Listen to our request for mercy, LORD!” Our LORD God, our strong saving help—you’ve protected our head on the day of battle. LORD, don’t give the wicked what they want! Don’t allow their plans to succeed, or they’ll exalt themselves even more! – Psalm 140:6-8 (CEB)
Even our words are weapons as tensions increase between North Korea and the United States. Our strength is in our power to kill – not only each other but also the bystanders. In the only region in the world to know the true horrors of nuclear weapons – in the span of a week – over a billion people wonder if it will happen again in their lifetime. We so freely wield the power of life and death.
But it is not just the nations that rage, but our very souls as well. We are still reaping the consequences of the abomination of slavery in this country. Holding onto the past – or our romanticized version of it – we hold onto hate in the present. Living with an attitude of scarcity and a fear of the future, we seek to find those we can stand on top of to keep our own heads above water. We so easily see one another as a commodity or the “other” rather than one with whom we share the very breath of life.
The violence in Charlottesville began long before Friday night. It has always been here. Hate spoken and perpetuated in violence and oppression that was once done in secret is now acceptable in public. It is not a question of free speech, but the reality of deep-seeded hate. It is an abomination. Why do we so easily choose hate rather than love?
I know that the LORD will take up the case of the poor and will do what is right for the needy. Yes, the righteous will give thanks to your name, and those who do right will live in your presence. – Psalm 140:12-13 (CEB)
As we pray that the violence and hate of the wicked would be defeated, we don’t pray for more violence. We pray that you would lift up women and men with a heart like yours. Let truth be spoken to power. Let love find its way. And while we want to condemn those who seek violence and hate, instead we commend them to you.
Lord give wisdom to those in power – a holy wisdom that finds a new way to rule in the world. Surround leaders of countries with people who seek justice and make righteous voices heard. Infiltrate terrorist groups and hate movements with those whose lives have been changed by grace. Let light be shed on evil so that the darkness can be overcome. Teach us to make peace. Make us creative at seeking life. Let power be used to liberate and unite. Let love win.