The gospel has great news and yet incredibly uncomfortable things to say about justice to those who perpetuate injustice and to those affected by injustice.

Asleep in the Storm: Rest amidst Racial Conflict

by Stuart Greaves
6/2/20 Christian Living

This blog is adapted from The Womb of the Morning by Stuart Greaves.

I have gone back and forth in my soul on whether I should speak up or not. Firstly, one of the greatest reasons is because I do not want to come across dismissive to the plight of those around me or seem calloused to what is taking place. Secondly, my hesitation in communicating is because I don’t want there to be a hint of self-justification before the Lord. However, I have come to a place of settling and believing that this will be helpful to some as well as a place of understanding towards those critical of what I’m going to say. I will not, however, go back and forth on social media but am more than happy to hear you out in person as time permits. Others will appreciate this, while some will hear what I am not saying and say, “Stuart, you’re not from here, you don’t get it.” This criticism, too, I have come to peace with. Yet it will not deter me from speaking the gospel as it has been passed on to me and as I see it in Scripture.

I have been asked by several how I am doing in light of the recent police incidents involving the death of two black men. I “hemmed and hawed,” throwing out a party line or two, not wanting to communicate that I’m calloused or let the honest truth come out that I actually have been asleep in the boat with Jesus on this. The truth is, currently I am not afraid of the police, I am not afraid to go for a walk or for a jog, nor am I lost or confused about what is going on, but strangely, by God’s grace, I am asleep in the boat. I have been for some time. I must, however, confess that this has not always been the case, and I’m sure there will be moments I will have to wrestle with that. Yet increasingly it is not the overarching narrative of my soul. Some of you may ask, “Why? Don’t you care? Aren’t you black? Are you out of touch or have you gotten drunk with the privilege of those around you?” No. On the contrary, not only do I understand but have experienced and felt the fear, the anger, etc., yet the Spirit has continually prodded me to turn to Him. I don’t always, but I have in many seasons and found surprising answers both unsettling and joyous. I gain it, lose it, and have to work my way back often in turning to Him. I find myself off course easily, but I find my way home time and again after I’m done and tired of eating the pig slop of anger and angst in a distant land.

For over twenty years, to the consternation of many, I have been speaking, as have many others, on the coming racial conflicts in America and that through it the Lord is going to from time to time begin to rip off the band-aids and expose false peace and safety and deep-seated racial angst in the land. I spoke as well, along with others, about the calling of Jesus’ Church to grapple with her role as a racially unified witness in the midst of racial conflict and that the followers of Jesus needed to be delivered both from the politically liberal and conservative narrative concerning the issue of justice and discover Jesus’ way as communicated all through the Scripture (Psalm 119:160), both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. I have spoken on this literally nearly 10,000 times in one-on-one settings, small groups, on stage in front of hundreds and thousands, on social media outlets, in endless texts conversations, etc. (see Gospel Witness in the Midst of Racial Conflict / Endeavoring to Keep the Unity of the Spirit). Because of this, for over 20 years, nearly 30, I have been forced to let my soul tremble at the thought of the coming racial conflict.

This has not been an easy feat as it was met by resistance, misunderstanding, and dismissal, both due to the hearers as well as my own immaturity in the earlier days as to how to communicate it. Why are you talking about this? Are you a liberal? Are you a conservative? What are you? Are you black? Are you anti-black? You don’t get America. Be careful to make sure that this is not out of anger? etc. I have wanted to quit many times, but the burden was too real. I didn’t ask for it, nor did I want it, and I’m not entirely sure that I still want it. However, it is a burden in my bones and deeply in my gut, and I continue to experience the Spirit’s unwelcomed prompting to continue to lift my voice. I keep thinking this current situation is yet another flashpoint and then it will subside, and then again another flash, and on and on it goes. Jesus spoke to us about this in the Scripture.

In the midst of this journey, over 20 years ago, I discovered the one I affectionately call Brother Habakkuk. I found in him a whole wide range of emotions while he was walking out with God the truth about justice. There was a verse that was particularly striking to me.

    When I heard it, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops. (Habakkuk 3:16; emphasis added)

When looking at the details in the Scripture of the coming end-time crisis, it forces us to wrestle with certain heart dynamics slightly ahead of time. Brother Habakkuk early on grapples with the Lord about the sad state of affairs in Judah, but the Lord told Brother Habakkuk that there is a greater crisis coming as part of the mysterious solution to the present problem. Most of us know that while things are “ok,” things at the same have not been “ok,” and we have been asking Jesus for answers. It is why so many of you are intercessors. In this verse, I saw a principle that in the time when things are “ok and yet not ok,” it is time to let ourselves get disrupted further and deeper by truth spoken by the prophets of old.

When we embrace the news of a coming storm, it does such a work in us that when it comes about, we can walk in peace, have clarity, and be a voice of wisdom, comfort, and love. Brother Habakkuk tells us great trouble is coming, but it will serve as a context for righteousness producing faith to emerge (Habakkuk 2:4), so we can enter and live forever in Jesus’ coming just society on the earth forever (v. 14)—the kingdom of God. At the same time, I confess that I have not yet attained this by any stretch of the imagination. My soul has yet to fully grapple with the raging storm that is coming to the earth, and there is so much more light that Jesus wants to shine on my heart. However, there is a surprising peace I have that is freeing my soul to get shaken by the news of what is coming insofar as a crisis over the next several years and decades. My friends, I hear us, I hear the news, I hear the “prophesies” about the land shining lighter and brighter. But my personal conflict comes when I look at the prophecies of the Jewish carpenter, the Son of God Himself, and I realize that much of what is being said simply does not line up with His Word. When it comes to the issue of race, He declared, “nation against nation.” He prophesied ethnic conflict in the earth that will reach apocalyptic proportions; and every social flashpoint is both an indicator towards that reality as well as an invitation to the followers of Jesus to be disrupted and grapple with becoming gospel witnesses in the midst of racial conflict. The good news is that Jesus doesn’t lie nor does He exaggerate, and the bad news is that Jesus doesn’t lie nor does He exaggerate. He said very clearly to us that “these things must come to pass.” He also said with that, “See to it that you are not troubled.

I get shaken just like the next guy. However, when I am shaken, I know this to be true: it is an indicator, an alarm, that there are areas in my soul that are wrongly anchored in things that are shakable and that it is time for me to readjust, resisting the temptation to look for false relief from the pressure of being disrupted by the gospel. The Lord once spoke to a prophetic friend and said, “I am not saying nearly as much as you say that I am saying, but I’m saying a lot more than you are willing to hear.” Let’s stand before Him, and through the Word of God incline and listen. The gospel has great news and yet incredibly uncomfortable things to say about justice to those who perpetuate injustice and to those affected by injustice. His voice will break through. However, it is quite unsettling to ponder knowing that He will gently, wisely, lovingly, and determinedly get His point across.

So some of you are asking what do we do with all this.

  • Firstly, the Father spoke audibly on the mountain to Peter, James, and John saying, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.” Jesus spoke to us in many places; the one I have in mind is Matthew chapter 24, the whole chapter, including both the warnings as well as the response Jesus urges us to have.
  • Secondly, pray. Spend time with Jesus. Ask Him to reveal His love for you as in Zephaniah 3:17.
  • Thirdly, ask the Lord for grace and consider taking the posture of Brother Habakkuk, who understood that his internal disruption was an indication of not being aligned with the perspective of heaven and that the measure in which we lack peace is the measure by which we are not connected with the interests of Christ but the interests of self and man, thus living by our own self-consumed and limited perspective.
  • Fourthly, consider turning off the news reports for a season (Fox, CNN, etc.). From heaven’s perspective, it’s all “fake news.” There is a report that heaven has for us (Isaiah 53:1). It’s Aslan’s report. And although it is not a tame report, but a dangerous and intrinsically disruptive one, it is still good.
  • Fifthly, ask for a Holy Spirit escort to go on a journey to discover your heavenly citizenship (Phillipians 3:21) and what it means to have been bought out of a people (Revelation 5:9) and brought into another (1 Peter 2:9).
  • Father, I pray in the name of Jesus that You visit us, visit my brothers and sisters and myself. Give grace to our hearts, give us the strength to turn and see Your Word, Your ways, and Your purpose. I am grateful, Abba, that You told us that we can come to Your Son when we are weighed down and distressed and that You will not only gently and meekly grant us rest but You will also instruct us. Father, grant us rest in the storm and instruct us in the way of You. Abba, radiate Your glorious face, let the light of Your countenance shine on our hearts filling us with glory, beauty, and the wonder of You and Your ways. Forgive us for the ways of misplaced faith and hope and instructs us in Your ways and form Christ within. In Jesus Name, amen.

    For more by Stuart Greaves, you can read “The Gospel Witness in the Midst of Racial Conflict.” We also recommend his book False Justice: Unveiling the Truth About Social Justice. Gain a Christ-focus and biblical backing needed to form a right and godly mindset regarding social justice. Learn more >>

    Stuart Greaves


    • Executive Director, IHOPKC
    Stuart Greaves leads the Executive Leadership Team of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City. He has been part of IHOPKC since 1999. For 20 years, Stuart led the NightWatch—the section of the Global Prayer Room which goes from midnight to 6am every night. Stuart is recognized as one of the primary teachers at IHOPKC and International House of Prayer University (IHOPU). He teaches verse by verse through various books of the Bible. His passion is to equip people to cultivate intimacy by growing in their understanding of the beauty of Jesus and to engage in worship and prayer for the great harvest along with partnering with the Lord as He prepares the Church to be a ready Bride (Rev. 19:7). He has been married to Esther for 25 years.
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