Rob Bell, if you’re reading this (I wish!), correct me if it wasn’t you who said this. I think it was. I was listening to an audiobook of Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile, and I believe that is where I heard you and Don Golden say, “Everything begins with hearing the cry.”
In the Cain and Abel story in Genesis… when Cain kills his brother Abel, out of jealousy that God has found Abel’s sacrifice more acceptable, God challenges Cain saying, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” God hears the cries of the afflicted. He doesn’t turn from them.
Listen in on these words from Psalms:
- For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted. — Psalm 9:12
- You hear, oh Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them and you listen to their cry…. — Psalm 10:17
- For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. — Psalm 22:24
- For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. — Psalm 72:12
- [A prayer of an afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament before the LORD.] Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come to you. — Psalm 102:1
For God, and thus for us (made in His image), “everything begins with hearing the cry.” How do we image-bearers encounter pain? How do we respond to it?
Romans says: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (8:22, 23)
The Gulf of Mexico cries out; nations cry out; victimized children cry out; the hungry cry out. One reason we all have our iPods bathing us with tunes is to block out the moans, groans, cries and tears of those we pass.
Do we want to know? Do we slow down to listen? What do we do with the moans we hear? Do we have time to consider involvement? Do we fear being called on to respond?
I wonder some days how many cries I can respond to. Compassion fatigue is real. But what would it look like to live a life that had space and time and energy to respond to the cries that I can hear? What would it look like to be willing to hear more cries?
Everything begins with hearing the cry. Thanks, Rob Bell.