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A Lament for George Floyd

Written by Mark Vroegop on

On May 26, the video footage of the killing of George Floyd shocked the conscience of our nation.

Despite the pleas from a small crowd on a street in Minneapolis, a white police officer defiantly and mercilessly pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.

“I can’t breathe.” “Please.” “Mamma.”

Floyd’s desperate cries for mercy were met with heartless apathy and arrogant dominance.

Somewhere in the eight-minute subjugation, George Floyd stopped moving. Pinned under the weight of at least one–perhaps three–officers, he died.

The outrage over his murder sparked protests in multiple cities. Sections of Minneapolis burned. Deep wounds that haven’t been healed were once again revealed.

Where do we turn? What do we do?

Along with relationships, teaching, repenting, listening, and working to bring change, one starting point can be lament – the biblical expression of sorrow. Lament vocalizes grief. It empathizes with the hurting. And it memorializes the anguish as a form of loving protest.

Lament doesn’t solve all the problems. But it is a place to start.

Here’s mine.

A Lament for George Floyd

Oh God of Justice, shine forth! Giver of the breath of life, how long? The One whose image every human bears, help! Prince of Peace, have mercy!

We turn to you because the fragile curtain of our culture has been pulled back. We look into the ugly mirror of callous indifference, historical prejudice, and persistent injustice. We see our society. We see our history. We see ourselves. And we lament.

Our minds are seared with what we’ve witnessed this week. We can’t forget. We won’t forget.

An image-bearer pleaded to breathe. A grown man appealed for his mother and begged for mercy, while a knee was driven into his neck for eight minutes. As a crowd filmed his struggle, George Floyd died. No–was murdered.

The image, O God, of a white officer wielding his authority with deadly recklessness is tragically familiar for my black brothers and sisters. It cuts a new scar on top of old ones. It resurrects painful and traumatic memories. Buried wounds resurface–again and again. It shows us the canyon of injustice and pain that lays just under the surface of our lives.

What are we to do, O Lord? We don’t even know what to say! Hopelessness and despair could easily be our lot. Worse–denial or deflection could be our pattern, again.

Help us Lord! We pray for the family of George Floyd. Give them comfort. Pour out your grace upon them. We ask for justice to be done. We pray for the leaders of the city of Minneapolis–grant them wisdom and let truth win the day. We ask for peace in the cities around our country. God, help us listen more clearly to the voices of the hurting so that frustrations need not boil over into destruction.

We pray for repentance for the officers involved and for those who are using this crisis as an opportunity for evil. We thank you for honorable protesters and we pray for the justice-cherishing officers who are sick with grief over the appalling actions of those called to “protect and serve.”

Lord in your church, we desperately need you to create deeper levels of understanding, a greater practice of empathy, and a stronger resolve for change. The sins underneath and behind Mr. Floyd’s death slither their way into our congregations. We are not immune from division, partiality, self-centeredness, prejudice, and racism. Use this crisis, along with COVID-19 and our uncertain economy, to humble us to seek your face.

We trust that you alone, O God, can bring the change that we, your church, and our nation need. It’s only by your grace that sinners can be made whole. It’s only by the power of Jesus that our most strident divisions and our deepest pains can be healed.

We long for the day when people from every tongue and nation will gather before you. We ache for your just and righteous rule.

But in the meantime, we groan: how long, O Lord?

Oh God of Justice, shine forth! Giver of the breath of life, how long? The One whose image every human bears, help! Prince of Peace, have mercy!

In Jesus’s Name.

Amen

Mark Vroegop

Mark was called as the Lead Pastor of College Park in 2008. In this integral role, he is the primary teaching pastor for the North Indy congregation, and he works alongside the pastors and elders to implement our mission of igniting a passion to follow Jesus. He is a graduate of Cedarville University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (M. Div.). Mark approaches ministry with a unique blend of passion for Jesus, a love for the Word, and a desire to see lives changed. He is a conference speaker, Council Member of The Gospel Coalition, contributor to 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, and author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament and Weep With Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation. Prior to serving at College Park, Mark served at a church in western Michigan for 13 years. He married his wife, Sarah, in 1993, and they have four children, as well as a daughter in heaven due to an unexpected still-birth in 2004.
Blog:  markvroegop.com | Facebook: Mark Vroegop | Twitter: @MarkVroegop

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