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Drowning out the cries of the suffering

May 31, 2022 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Suffering

“Dear children, let us not love not with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

As I was reading Diane Langberg’s Suffering and the Heart of God last week, I came across this devastating story that is worth sober reflection:

“While I was in Ghana a couple of years ago for a conference on violence against women and children, we visited Cape Coast Castle. Hundreds of thousands of Africans were forced through its dungeons and through the door of no return onto slave ships. There were five dungeon chambers for males, and descending into the darkness of one of those dungeons felt claustrophobic. 200 men shackled and chained together lived in that dungeon for about three months before being shipped across the Atlantic. We stood in one of the male dungeons listening in the darkness to the whole horrific story, when our guide said this: “Do you know what is above this dungeon?” Our heads shook. “The chapel. Directly above 200 shackled men, some of them dead, others screaming, all of them sitting in filth, sat God-worshipers. They sang, they read the Scripture, they prayed, and I suppose took up an offering for those left fortunate. The slaves could hear the service, and the worshipers could sometimes hear the slaves, though there were those making them behave so as to not disturb church. It took my breath away. The evil, the suffering, the humiliations, the injustice were overwhelming, and the visual parable was stunning. The people in the chapel were numb to the horrific trauma and suffering beneath them.”

The one who has ears to hear, let them hear. Brothers and sisters, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that what God really wants from His church is upbeat contemporary music and top-notch programs. Let God’s words in Isaiah 58:3-14 reveal what true worship looks like to Him:

“'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?' Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

God is not looking for Christians who play church while ignoring the cries of the suffering and the oppressed. Ask the Lord to open our ears and eyes to those who are suffering in the dungeons of our day, and to give us the courage to follow the example of our Lord, who left the comfort of heaven to seek and save those who were lost.

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