Our country continues to process the mind-breaking emotions of Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes. In response, some are engaging in peaceful protests. Others are organizing prayer walks. Others are fighting for better legislation. Still others are setting up interracial dialogue. I’m trying to do my part by writing this post.
I admit that my response is weak compared to the noble actions of so many. But maybe this short post might encourage one person not to lose hope.
When I hear about bloodshed, I run to Psalm 10. It gives words to my feelings of helplessness, fear, anger, and doubt. Most important, it ends with a message of hope.
Let’s walk through this psalm together.
1 Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
The psalm permits us to pound on God’s chest with all our doubts and frustrations. Speak to God what’s on your heart. He can handle it. “Lord, where were you? Why didn’t you stop Officer Chauvin? Lord, you had nine minutes to intervene. Why didn’t you do something to save George Floyd from dying?”
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
This section voices the concern of so many, namely, that the wicked will not be brought to justice. Again, the psalmist is giving us room to speak from our hearts about our greatest concerns.
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
I didn’t have the stomach to watch the video footage, but from the preliminary reports and the autopsy, it seemed like Chauvin treated his victim like a lion pursuing his prey. He seemed to show no mercy. He was being paid to protect life, yet he used his power to harm.
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
Such violence and wickedness can leave us feeling utterly helpless. So we call out to God to live up to his name and his character. We call out to God to be who he says he is. “Lord, you are a just and loving God. Where is your justice? Where is your love?”
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
This is where the psalmist takes a step of faith. He believes that God does see the victims, and God feels their pain. He does see the wicked, and he will bring them all to justice. Thankfully, Chauvin will stand before an earthly judge. But more important, he will have to answer before the Lord, the ultimate Judge.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
The psalmist began in pain and ends with praise. He believes that God is still the King over all. He believes that the afflicted are heard and will be encouraged. But the wicked will be brought to justice so that they might never strike terror again.
I know our feelings of pain might not turn to praise as quickly as the psalmist, but we can at least take a step of faith today. We don’t have to seek vengeance because God will. Only he knows the hearts of all those involved. Only he knows what judgments are true and right. We don’t have to live in fear because our good God still reigns.
Now is the time to pray for justice and peace, to pray that God will use his governing authorities to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. Finally, let us all turn to our Savior with repentant hearts that he might restore all our souls.