Teaching Children When To Get Angry, When to Mourn and How to Pray Like Habbakuk



O LORD, how long shall we cry for help, 
and you will not hear? 
Or cry to you “Violence"
and you will not save? 
Why do you make us see iniquity, 
and why do you idly look at wrong? 
Destruction and violence is before us; 
strife and contention arise. 
So the law is paralyzed, 
and justice never goes forth. 
For the wicked surround the righteous 
so justice goes forth perverted
Habakkuk 1:2-4

Because I have always been the kind of mom that would rather lay out all truth to my kids, yes, even hard truth, for the sake of important dialogue, in order that they will grow wise to the ways of our fallen and broken world, I beckoned my 15 year old daughter and 10 year old son to watch the video of Terrence Crutcher's altercation with police that subsequently led to him being shot and ultimately killed. I also read aloud to them the article that was attached to the video.



My kid's first reaction was to get livid at incompetency, especially since they have a dad in law enforcement. My kids learn from their dad the protocols of what should be in place when law enforcement pulls anyone over for any reason. My kids know that whenever law enforcement responds to the scene of any given situation, anything can happen, even the worse "anything", like the kind that can take the life of my husband and their dad. So bringing my children into these kinds of discussions is our norm.


Another added dimension is that my husband is white. I am not. Due to the ethnic makeup of our family and my husband's job, we cannot see these kinds of situations from one perspective, one side or vantage point.


After watching the video my kiddos got into a heated debate as to what all the police officers involved in this incident got wrong. As their conversation ensued, it was obvious that my kids became filled with rage.


My daughter started prejudging the female officer who fired the shot, claiming that even though the female officer has been an officer of the law since 2011, she must not know what it really means to be on the police force. My girl began ranting and raving about how desperate the police department must be to hire "anyone off the street who don't know what they are doing" [her words] and how "police are called to protect, not kill" [again her words].


My boy, on the other hand, was more reflective in his anger. He watched Terrence Crutcher carefully and said that he didn't do anything wrong, well other than walking away from police. He said that if they questioned his motives, they should have tased him only, but not shot him. I reminded him that one of the police officers actually did use a taser and it was done at the same time he was shot. My boy just shook his head and said they should all be fired. He didn't understand why Mr. Crutcher was shot. He kept saying, "they didn't have to shoot him" over and over again.


As their mom, I knew anger had filled their hearts. I reminded them that it's proper to have outrage. Mark 3:5 tells us that Jesus looked at the Pharisees with anger and then grieved at their hardness of hearts. Anger and grieving can go hand in hand. However, we must not allow ourselves to sit there in it. I had to teach my children what their next response ought to be.


Yes, it is good and right to see incompetence and injustice for what it is, call it out, and demand someone should be fired and prosecuted for shooting this unarmed man, regardless if they are a police officer. I also had to remind my children that since we do not know all the facts, we need to be careful that in our default flesh response we must remember that the media will often sensationalize these kinds of incidents, not realizing that the ripple effect only causes people to be torn apart and divided further.


I also reminded them it's proper to mourn at injustice. I told them we should be sad at how broken our world is. I reminded them that due to people fearing differences, racism exists. I told them that racism continues to exist because others don't believe it exists or simply that people don't care about it because it does not affect them or that people are just content to live out their own existence seeking their own self-interests without regard for others hurts.


However, I am not Jesus and I cannot judge, nor can my daughter judge the intentions or motivations of why this female officer pulled the trigger so quickly? Was it racism in full throttle? Was it adrenaline? Was it fear? Was it power exertion being exhibited because she was a female among a line-up of male officers? Whatever it was, it was bad policing. Or it appears to be bad policing.


Do I want my daughter, who is both black and brown, to default to believing that every conceivable ill in society is due to racism? And even if some of her future negative experiences are, she has a white step-father in law enforcement and a half white brother, whom she loves with all her heart. She cannot see all white people or all law enforcement as one in the same.



 My mom heart wanted both of them to feel the weight of injustice, to get angry, but then also remind them to mourn for those hurting. When I read the news article to them, I stressed what the family members said concerning Mr. Crutcher. I reminded them that he was a father, a son, a brother. I stressed to them that today, 4 children were going to wake up knowing they won't ever see their father again. I let all those realities sink in because I purposely wanted them to feel the sadness over this entire situation.


And they did.


Nonetheless, I did not leave them wallowing in their anger nor did I want them to feel hopeless in their mourning.....so I prompted them to pray. It is my job to lead them and show them how to pray when tangibly they feel hopeless over situations that cause their emotions to go from one extreme to another.


It is my responsibility to teach them that anger can't give way to rage and mourning can't swallow up hopelessness. Likewise, prayer should be our first and final response as we beckon God to hear our prayers. As Christians, it is right to take our questions, anger, mourning and grievances about societal evils that have become common place injustices before the throne of God. Sadly, we fall prey to the mentality that political appeals and continued protests are solutions. As good as these can be, when done well, they will not bring redemptive reformation to our nation at large. They are not meant to.


We only have to see our past and current presidential choices to realize that "progress" does not automatically usher in God's goodness through born again believers that have God's law written on their hearts.


As a matter of fact, history tells us that when nations and countries lose sight of goodness, God's goodness, that God does indeed give them over to themselves, which inevitably leads to their demise and eventual non-existence. How self-righteous of us to think that our country, the good ol' USA is immune to that.


Like Habakkuk, we must default to take our protests immediately to God's high court, who is Sovereign over ALL the earth, even if, no, even when, we see that there does not seem to be a reprieve in sight for the lack of social equality or goodness in our country's culture and how we view each other, which leads to how we treat each other, civilians and law enforcement and politicians and even Christians who ascribe to different denominations.


Habakkuk petitioned God when he saw that God's people were treating each other mercilessly. He questioned God's silence when the nation of Israel collectively behaved in wicked and evil ways that went counter to God's calling and admonishment.


Yes, God gave his people many good and just laws to follow for a time that they were needed, and in those laws, he directed and mandated his chosen people to treat others differently than the rest of the world was treating each other. Being representatives of Yahweh, his people were to behave within God's parameters of behaving.


Isaiah 1:16-17 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice; correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.


Notice this does not say "make children fatherless" or "make widows" of those men who we think are shady or not deserving of justice


Or


Micah 6:8  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Lastly, are we prepared to receive these words: 

Look among the nations, and see, wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told
(Habakkuk 1:5)


Habakkuk asked God to intervene and do something about the injustices and evil that God's very own chosen people were doing to each other. Habakkuk wanted a revival of some sort. He wanted social justice. He wanted evil to be dealt with. However, I don't think he was expecting the answer that God gave him. God was not only going to take care of social injustice, he was going to take care of the entire lot. He going to make an outside nation rise up and plunder his own people. Lay its waste. Desolate it completely.


God's answer to evil acts of injustice was not national revival. It turned out to be national non-existence. Instead of questioning God about the lack of "fairness" that this plan seemed to exhibit, Habakkuk responds rightly. 


I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:16-19)


While we wait for God to answer our cries and prayers, do we have what it takes to wait quietly for the day when God gets the last word and trust that whatever that looks like, we will rejoice in the LORD and take joy in the God of our salvation?


Regardless of what happens, evil, injustice, racism, strife, division, contention, I want my kiddos to pray and trust, even when it seems that God is silent while also teaching them that God is never silent. Simply, we are just not privy to the chain of command that is handed out and implemented by the Commander in Chief of the Universe.


Are we ok with that?