Feeling the Pain
By DANNY MINTON
“Black Lives Matter!” Ok, now that I have your attention, let’s talk about it. Do you feel the pain in that phrase? As a Christian, I know “all lives matter” in the eyes of Jesus. He died for us all. The lives of everyone on the face of this planet now, in the past, in the future, saint or sinner all matter to Jesus. The more I see the above phrase, the more I hear some people speak, I see the pain in that phrase. Unfortunately, the riots, the “knee jerk” reactions of some leaders, the hate pointed toward law enforcement, and the attack on history has warped what the intent, I believe, of the phrase intends to say.
My skin color is considered white. Actually, it’s not white, but somewhere between black and white. As I’m older and look back at years past, I see how people of my color treated people of a different color. In our town, the different colors got along, but we lived separate lives. We had “colored town,” where those with black skin could only live. We were segregated in the movie theaters with the blacks in the balcony and could only enter and exit through the side door. We separated on the city buses with the blacks sitting in the back and the whites up front. Our water fountains were white and colored, with many times only the white fountain cooled. I remember signs that said, “Whites Only,” or “No Colored.”
We all seemed to get along, but as I look back, it must have been painful to be viewed as less than others because of your skin color, something you had no choice in selecting. I was not looked on with suspicion when I entered a store or walked down the street. I look back and wish my young eyes could have seen what was going on and been more aware that black lives do matter. I don’t believe the phrase is saying “only” black lives matter. It’s saying we matter, too. We’re hurting because we feel the world is against us.
Unfortunately, the radical side of the protests is doing what they claim others have done for years. They focus on the bad people and stereotype groups based on a few individuals. The majority of law enforcement is not bad, the majority of whites are not racist, the majority of blacks are not violent, in fact, the majority of people in this country are good people who want to take care of their families and live peaceful lives.
It’s odd about pain, how sometimes we don’t feel it at all, and other times it overwhelms us. Believe it or not, the pain that seems to hurt the most is not the physical pain, but the pain that racks our hearts. It’s a pain that eats at our stomach that causes our eyes to swell up and sends us into despair.
But it’s when we have this pain that we can come closer together, a togetherness that does not exist in words only felt between people. Riots only widen the divide, and new laws only give “band-aid” solutions without getting to the depth of the matter.
I’m not an expert, but to bring people together, it takes sharing with each other the pains and struggles we are having. Most communities gather “community leaders” together to discuss these matters. That’s OK, but the real solution is to get the “everyday” folks together, the teenagers, the workers, the women, the people who walk in the regular steps of life, just trying to survive and be a part of the community and world. They are the ones who are hurting. They are the ones saying, “My Life Matters, Too.”
Jesus felt pain. He felt it as he endured floggings. He felt it as he hung on the cross. But the real pain that Jesus felt was the pain for the many men and women he came across in his daily life. As he looked over Jerusalem and sighed so deeply over their turning from God. As he spoke with Mary and Martha and wept because of their pain. As he looked into the fearful eyes of a young woman caught in adultery, telling her, “Neither do I condemn you.” As he turned in the crowd and said, “Who touched me?” As he hung on the cross, looking down on the people below, saying, “Father forgive them!” He taught us that real pain is not merely physical but that internal feeling that longs for others to be well, emotionally, physically, and spiritually; suffering that resides within our hearts.
When I broke bones playing football, I didn’t feel the pain. But today, I feel the pain. I feel the pain of a country that has lost its way. There are broken hearts and tears in every corner of the country. People are hurting that so desperately need God to intervene. It is when we feel their pain that we have become who God expects us to be. That’s what Jesus taught us. He showed us by example that one who truly loves God loves his fellow human being.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4