A few weeks ago, I was driving home from work, excited to finish up some last minute packing for my trip to Dallas. As I drove, mentally adding to my packing list, I passed a group of teenage boys playfully roughhousing on the other side of the street.
It appeared to be a normal afternoon scene at first. Moderate traffic, pedestrians crossing the street, kids playing outside, everyone in their own worlds. I glanced over at the boys again, eyes drawn to them by a blur of colors and movement. My foot eased off the brakes only to fall heavy upon the pedal once again as my mind attempted to make sense of what my eyes were seeing.
What I initially thought was a group of high-schoolers was actually a few teenage boys and an elderly man. What I initially thought was playful roughhousing between friends was actually a group of teenagers aggressively beating an old man to the ground and repeatedly punching him as he lay defenseless.
Lead foot on the breaks, my body lurched forward as the car came to a stop in the middle of the street. It took me a few seconds to realize that this was actually happening. I barely noticed the cars honking behind me. I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t been in this situation before. I wasn’t in my safe little southern suburb of Katy, Texas, anymore. This was Chicago, Illinois. Do I get involved? Do I chase after the teenagers who clearly are not just a group of harmless little boys? Do I honk my car horn? Scream? Yell?
I called 9-1-1 from inside my car as the driver in front of me ran out of her car and across the street to the old man, now alone. Even as I gave my account of the situation to the dispatcher on the phone and later to the police, I found myself in an unyielding state of disbelief.
I drove home confused. Outraged. Angry. Sorrowful.
A torrent of thoughts, questions, prayers:
God, how did this happen? Why did this happen? Please let the old man be okay. Who were these boys? Why did they hurt this man? Perhaps the old man instigated it… Still, that doesn’t warrant such a violent response. Who raised these boys to behave this way? Why was my initial concern for myself in all of this? Forgive me, Lord. Why didn’t I act quicker? How could all the other people nearby just let this happen? Why is the world like this? How long, oh Lord, how long until you return?
Many of us are asking these questions as we watch the world spin out of control around us. I’d like to say I have the answers, but I don’t—not satisfying ones, anyway. Why is our world like this? Why, because of sin of course. I know this, and yet I’m often left unsatisfied with this knowledge.
And then I’m reminded: As frustrated and pained as I am by this, how much more frustrated and pained is my heavenly Father who witnesses these situations happening everywhere, all the time, simultaneously, without end? I witnessed this one situation on my little street corner as He witnessed countless others, many more atrocious, all over the world, in places far worse off than Chicago, Illinois.
I am amazed at my Father’s patience with mankind.
I am left awestruck by His mercy.
I am left speechless by His grace.
The corner of Lawrence and Winthrop wrung out a jumble of emotions from my heart, and the Lord knew them all.
He knew them first.
The feeling of helplessness is debilitating. Nothing keeps one stagnant as helplessness does. But we are not helpless, friends. Though society appears to be getting worse with time, there is hope and we can do something about it.
Let’s remember that we are raising adults, not children. Let’s remember that parents, though most responsible, aren’t the only ones involved in that raising process. “It takes a village,” as they say. Let’s invest in the young people and families around us. We don’t have to be parents to be godly role models.
Let’s do the right thing always. Let’s rush to the aid of others without regard for ourselves. Let’s lovingly call people out on their mistakes and invite others to do the same for us. Let’s be receptive to correction. Let’s be selfless, honest, wise, vigilant. Let’s talk about Jesus. Let’s sincerely pray for others.
Let’s look beyond our to-do lists, beyond our steering wheels, beyond our cell phones, beyond ourselves and actually care about the world around us with the love of Christ.
Let’s be C h r i s t i a n s .
There is hope. But it’s only found in Him.
We can do something. But we can only do it with Him.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. | 2 Corinthians 5:14-15