“It is easy to be honest before God with our hallelujahs; it is somewhat more difficult to be honest in our hurts; it is nearly impossible to be honest before God in the dark emotions of our hate. … We must pray who we actually are, not who we think we should be. … The way of prayer is not to cover our unlovely emotions so that they will appear respectable, but expose them so that they can be enlisted in the work of the kingdom. ‘It is an act of profound faith to entrust one’s most precious hatreds to God, knowing they will be taken seriously.’ Hatred, prayed, takes our lives to bedrock where the foundations of justice are being laid.”
~ Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer
Hatred. What do we do with it? More often than not, we act on it and direct it to the person or group of people that we hate. We speak it or display it with harsh words or actions on picket signs, in public and private practices.
America has a history of hatred that continues to impact the relationships that we as Americans share with each other. Greed coupled with an unjustified hatred of persons of African descent led to the enslavement of these human beings. This hatred reduced people to property and saw them as nothing more than objects to be used and exploited. The persons who “owned” them hated them but loved what they could do for them. It was a hate- love relationship.
This unfortunate reality and the hate crimes that continue to headline our news speak to our continued misunderstanding of the purpose of human relationships. We are confused by capitalism, race (and its false promise of supremacy) and other social systems. But, hatred is a crime against our humanity and the humanity of others. We do not glorify or praise God in it.
And many of us know this to be true. Perhaps, this is why we split our identity. We are black Christians, white Christians, red Christians, brown Christians, yellow Christians, beige Christians. One part is for God and the other for race. We know that we are commanded to love our enemies, to bless those who persecute us. But, we have a history to defend. If we forgive them, then what?
Heal. Start over. Trust. Build new relationships. Love. We must take our whole selves to God including the hateful part, the power that empowers us and that we lord over the unforgiven, that maintains our position as judge, jury and jailer. We must confess our hatred and ask God to heal us of it, to take it away from us. I am certain that we cannot do it on our own.
Yes, we should praise God for the things that He is doing with us and through us but, we must also talk about our struggles to love and accept all those that God has created. We must talk to God about our hatred. He’s concerned about it and He knows what to do with it.
2 thoughts on “Praying for our hatreds”
Thank you, John.