A Lament for Our Nation

By Soong-Chan Rah 12-03-2015
Ferguson rally
August 2104 rally to address the ongoing violence in Ferguson, Mo., attended by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries & the Garner family. a katz / Shutterstock.com

The following is a post-Ferguson lament for our nation adapted from Lamentations 5 when the people begin to pray for themselves.

1 Remember, Lord, what happened to Michael Brown and Eric Garner; look, and see the disgraceful way they treated their bodies.

2 Our inheritance of the image of God in every human being has been co-opted and denied by others.

3 The children of Eric Garner have become fatherless, widowed mothers grieve their dead children.

4 We must scrap for our basic human rights; our freedom and our liberty has a great price.

5 Corrupt officers and officials pursue us and are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest.

6 We submitted to uncaring government agencies and to big business to get enough bread.

7 Our ancestors sinned the great sin of instituting slavery; they are no more—but we bear their shame.

8 The system of slavery and institutionalized racism ruled over us,

and there is no one to free us from their hands.

9 We get our bread at the risk of our lives because of the guns on the streets.

10 Michael Brown’s skin is hot as an oven as his body lay out in the blazing sun.

11 Women have been violated throughout our nation’s history; black women raped by white slave owners on the plantations.

12 Noble black men have been hung, lynched and gunned down; elders and spokesmen are shown no respect.

13 Young men can’t find work because of unjustly applied laws; boys stagger under the expectation that their lives are destined for jail.

14 The elder statesmen and civil rights leaders are gone from the city gate;

young people who speak out their protest through music are silenced.

15 Trust in our ultimate triumph has diminished; our triumphant dance has turned to a funeral dirge.

16 Our sense of exceptionalism has been exposed. Woe to us, for we have sinned!

17 Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim

18 for our cities lie desolate with predatory lenders and real estate speculators prowling over them.

19 You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.

20 Why do you always forget us?

Why do you forsake us so long?

21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old

22 unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.

This text is taken from the epilogue, “Ferguson,” of Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times by Soong-Chan Rah. Copyright 2015 by Soong-Chan Rah. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515, USA.

Soong-Chan Rah is the Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. 

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