Acts 20:35 (Paul said) “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (NIV)
History is hard work which is why some people choose to ignore it. It reveals to us the truth about who we are, warts and all, in the hope that each succeeding generation will become a better version of its predecessors. The mistakes, calamities, and tragedies of the past may shame or even annoy us, but no matter what we feel about history, it’s hard work to accept the truth that it forever displays.
For instance, in Canada, the people are reeling from a recent discovery of a mass grave where over 200 bodies of indigenous children were found. They had been forcefully taken from their homes and tribes and placed in residential schools in order to ‘civilize’ them. For decades, survivors of the abuse that had been going on told their horrifying stories, but no one wanted to listen to their ‘outrageous’ tales because most of those schools were run by Christian denominations.
But history has a way of revealing the truth, so when these bodies were discovered, Canadians realized that the horrors and tragedies that those young children endured were true, so the whole nation, which tries to portray a people who are tolerant and accepting, was shocked. The ugliness of the past can no longer be hidden; the shame that has fallen on the church needs to be addressed. There can be no healing without a hearing; there can be no resolution without reparation; there can be no conclusion without contrition.
We also have a tragic and horrifying past to consider and confess with regard to indigenous people and those who were enslaved. History will keep burdening us with the truth if we ignore or vainly try to cancel it. Those who were once weak, powerless, and brutally silenced are now finding their strength and their voices. What they have to express is a hard truth about ourselves; what they have to reveal, we cannot continue to ignore.
As Christians, we are called to help the weak and the poor; we are meant to cheerfully give rather than selfishly take; we are supposed to be people of the Truth, no matter how inconvenient or unflattering that it may be; we are meant to seek and represent the Kingdom of God above all else; we are meant to apply grace to encourage goodness and adopt humility in order to heal. It is not an easy task, but it never has been – our symbol is a painful cross, not a pillowed cushion. If we want to build a better future, we need to repair the past.
Q: What parts of our history need to be revealed, received, and re-addressed?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to honestly look at our history and see clearly what needs to be confessed and healed. Give us the courage to face our ugliness and grant us the humility to correct our faults. In Your Holy Name, we pray, and by Your Holy Words, we seek to live. Amen.