How Love Brings Power in the Midst of Powerlessness {Ep 109}

love brings power

I finished recording this week’s episode of the Love is Stronger than Fear podcast where I talked about how love brings power in the midst of powerlessness, and I realized I had failed to mention Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. 

Stories of Powerlessness

This week, I told three stories of powerlessness: One, my own encounters with the education system and feeling helpless to bridge the gap between what our kids are receiving and what kids in less wealthy zip codes receive from their schools. Two, my dad’s attempt to help an immigrant trying to return to the United States after her husband died here of Covid-19. And three, my friend Patricia’s concern for her mom, who has been living in total isolation in a nursing home for two months. 

I talked about the power of status and achievement—the power that has so often “worked” for people like me, the power that Paul himself had as a zealous Jewish man. And then I talked about how Paul teaches the early Christians in Philippi that their identity is not from status and achievement but from “being found” in Christ. Faith in the love of God as expressed in the death and resurrection of Jesus is their new identity. 

Love Brings Power

The power of this new identity is the power of love. Love brings power—the gentle, humble, patient, kind, enduring, suffering, resurrecting, power of love. It is the power to remain with the people who are in a hopeless and helpless and powerless situation. It is the power to hope against hope in the midst of isolation and injustice and despair. It is the power to continue to make the phone calls and send the emails and pray the prayers even when it seems like nothing will or could ever change. 

Hope Beyond Hope

Which brings me back to Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who was murdered two months ago while taking a jog. His death illuminates the sense of futility and powerlessness experienced regularly by African Americans and other people of color across this nation. The sense that they could do everything “right” and still get hunted down and shot in the middle of the day while taking a jog and then, that it could take two months for the men who shot him to be brought to trial. 

My African American Christian friends understand far better than I do what it means to have hope beyond hope, what it means to trust the power of love and not the power of achievement, status, and control, what it means to lament and endure and suffer with those who suffer while always clinging to the hope of the resurrection

Wheaton Professor Esau McCaulley, reflecting on Abery’s death for the New York Times, writes:

When kings and rulers would not bring about justice, the disinherited put their hope in God. This is the root of black faith in this country: when faced with the denial of justice we set our hopes on a higher court, a more definitive vindication.

The Great Reversal

For the Christian, this vindication came in the person of Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection is the great reversal, the emptying of the power of sin and death on the one hand and the overcoming of the oppressive tendencies of the state on the other. That is, for us, the immovable fact of history.

I do not pretend to understand the depth of despair and hopelessness that so many vulnerable and oppressed people have experienced for centuries. But I do want to acknowledge all these precious human beings who are suffering under the weight of despair and isolation and injustice. And I want to pray that the power of the love of God—expressed in and through people—will patiently and kindly endure through the suffering to resurrection life.



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