From the best of times to the worst of times

Published 9:59 pm Thursday, June 4, 2020

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By Myrtle Thompson

That picture of George Floyd left me weeping. There was no justice for him. Why nobody stopped this travesty should haunt all of us, but we seem helpless to stop violent acts.

Jeremiah, an Old Testament prophet cried out, “The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Our whole nation should be dropping to our knees in personal confession and repentance. It was the need in Jeremiah’s day. It is our need today.

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I also weep today because our country is under attack. Peaceful demonstrators have been invaded by violent people who had no concern for Mr. Floyd, only what they could gain by looting and destroying. His memory was soon lost in greed by those destroyers of the life and livelihood of decent people. Where is that justice? How and why did peaceful demonstrators get mixed up with those accusing America of being a worthless country? I have lived in three Third World countries where I saw real poverty. People from other countries want a better life and come in hopes of finding it here. Will we be reduced to poverty?

June is time for the young to be enjoying summer fun. That does not now seem likely, certainly not like in the past. The names of peaceful demonstrators may not be remembered, but history will record the destruction looters and rioters have done and the voices of those saying America is worthless, right and wrong tossed aside for dollars they are paid to say it.

Shortly after returning from Pakistan, my white family was a victim of racial violence the last Saturday in September 1968. We had known nothing about impending racial riots. Our two law-abiding sons were brutally attacked as they rode their bicycles on the only street to our home. Our oldest son lost his left eye when he was lassoed and then hit across his face with a bicycle chain.

Cars passed by, paying no attention, until three sailors stopped and got this son to the hospital while my younger son went across the street to a small store and called the police and me. The owner had witnessed what happened.

A newspaper reporter got to the hospital shortly after I did. He asked for an interview. I told him what the doctor had said, “I doubt your son will ever see again.” It was Saturday afternoon. The bold headlines in the Sunday morning paper were my words. “We can forgive these boys, because God has forgiven us.” The words were so unbelievable some people thought I was in shock.

That one remark spoke volumes to bring on support from whites, which one would expect, but also from prominent black leaders, black pastors, church people, even the school staff and lunch room ladies. We came together as friends. They offered help and prayed with us. Forgiveness became an intercessor.

If “racial healing” is a need today, so is acceptance, which starts with humility. God did not make one person better than the other. He designed each of us in His image, giving us talents sufficient for our needs. (Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1:5)

Because I believe it is prayer that brought us through, I am pleading with all who pray to make that a priority for the needs our country is experiencing. We don’t want to lose what we have.

 Myrtle V. Thompson, age 92, is a retired missionary, educator and Bible teacher.