By Dr. Greg Davis, Senior Pastor
I felt for Governor Edwards at the press conference Sunday when he said he wished he had the words to express everything he was feeling. Too often pastors find themselves trying to put words around events that are too big, too deep, or too painful for words to describe. Truth is, every one of us has experienced those moments when words fail to convey what we are feeling. We are broken in spirit and words just don’t work.
War is being independently declared and fought by (mostly) mentally unstable persons across our nation. Oh, they may latch on to a “cause,” but their inability to control their violence reveals their insanity and self-centeredness as well as their disdain for responsible citizenship in a democracy.
Words simply don’t work to carry the full weight of this latest tragedy and how it impacts the community of Baton Rouge, our state, our nation…how it impacts the officers of the law who have the thankless – and increasingly dangerous – task of keeping the peace. We don’t have the words to describe the complexity of our emotions at the onslaught of violence that is abhorrent to our senses.
At times like these, it’s instructive to recall Paul’s promise that the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). It’s okay not to have the words. We have an intercessor.
One of the most powerful Psalms is the 77th. It is written from the perspective of someone who is in a terrible place, suffering depression, shock, despair. I think the writer of the 77th Psalm was feeling this same loss for words. And like Paul, he turns his thoughts back to God: "I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak" (vv. 1-4).
What’s instructive is where both these inspired writers take us. They do not leave us hanging.
They give us a word of HOPE.
For the psalmist, this hope is rooted in remembering God’s work in the past:
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds” (vv. 11-12).
When all other words won’t work, the word that works is HOPE.
Paul says, “We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25).
It’s hope that is grounded in the assurance that one day God’s kingdom will indeed come and God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.