I don’t personally know anyone who lives in Baltimore.   I don’t personally know anyone who lives in Ferguson.    The closest I can come to that is that I have a friend whose brother is on the Baltimore police force.

Whether the news media is telling the whole truth or sensationalizing it,  even if the story is only half as bad as it sounds on the news, it’s bad.

What’s going on in the United States right now?   Why is there so much that just seems so awful.   People thinking that violence is the answer – no matter what the question.    Other people thinking the only way to keep things “under control” is through violence. 

Anger.   So much anger.

What’s missing?   What’s causing all of this anger that is boiling over?

To answer that, I’m going to take you to another country.    A country that is near and dear to my heart.    A country that two  of my children were born in. 

Haiti.   Haiti – a beautiful land with beautiful people.

Haiti – a land with over 70% unemployment and a 20% mortality rate for children under the age of 5.

Haiti – a land that is, time and time again, subject to what they call “manifestations.”    We call them riots.   We call them protests.    They are quite often violent.    To the best of my knowledge only one President of Haiti has ever finished his term without being assassinated, overthrown or something quite drastic.

What’s missing in Haiti that appears to be more and more missing in the United States?

Hope.  

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it 47 years ago and it still rings true today:

The Language of the Unheard

A riot is the language of the unheard.

A riot is the language of people who have lost hope.  

They don’t know what else to do, they don’t know how else to attempt to improve their lives.

And so they rage and they riot and they fight.

And the people who have the difficult job of keeping the peace have to engage in a battle.   A bigger battle than they expected.

A battle that puts them in harm’s way.    A battle that can make even the strongest soul weary.

And no one wins.    Well, almost no one.

I’m sure the devil was smiling as he looked down on Baltimore last night.

A former boss of mine always said, “don’t come to me with a problem without coming with a  solution too……”

So what’s the solution?

Restore hope.

Really it’s that simple.    And that terrifyingly complex.

How do we restore hope?  

We restore hope through living and spreading the impact of a relationship with the source of all hope.   We don’t get all preachy about what’s right and what’s wrong, we don’t get all “preachy” about church and religion.

Instead, we show love.   We show love to those who are hurting.   We show love to those who have lost hope.   You know, the tax collectors and prostitutes – yeah, Jesus had dinner with the IRS agents and the “women of the street” so I think we can show his love to more people who aren’t “like” us.

We share love.   Because, to quote the famous Bob Goff,  “Love Does.”   

And sharing love requires giving grace.   Sharing grace.   Extending grace.   Grace to those who have lost hope.    Grace to those who need someone to give them a second chance.

Grace to someone who needs someone to believe in them.

A friend of mine, Lisa Anderson, is doing that with teen moms in Grand Rapids.    You can read more about what she’s doing and how she’s restoring hope, showing love and giving grace to teen moms who had no hope, had no one who loved them.   It’s called Grace’s Table.  

Labor of Love – Grace’s Table from Grace’s Table on Vimeo.

In this world that is so full of awful and horrendous things, in a time where there is so little to be hopeful about, don’t give in to the fear.

Don’t give in to blaming “them” for the problem (which ever problem you might be struggling with).   

Instead, show hope.

Help others see hope and love.

Even if they don’t see life the same way you do.

Even if they don’t look or dress or act the same way you do.

Lift others up and make a difference.

Join forces with someone like Lisa.

Do it in your own world,  your own life, your own family.

It’s what Jesus did.

It’s what He calls us to do.

Oh, and it ticks the devil off something serious too…….

TJV