The Apostle Peter describes Lot as a righteous man “who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless” (2 Peter 3:7 NIV, bold added). As our nation continues to wrestle racism and its byproducts, I find myself like ancient Lot–distressed.
Distressed translates a Greek verb that appears only two times in the New Testament, both in the passive, here in 2 Peter 2:7 and Acts 7:24. In Acts 7:24, it’s translated being mistreated by the NIV, to describe an Egyptian’s (mis)treatment of a Hebrew slave. The Greek verb carries the meaning of “to exhaust by labor, or suffering; to wear out; to overpower, oppress.”
In 2 Peter 2:7, it is used to describe the wearing out effect that the depravity and debauchery of Sodom and Gomorrah were having on Lot. In other words, Lot was “tired and fed up” of what he was witnessing. Then in Acts 7:24, a Hebrew slave was being simply mistreated and oppressed by an Egyptian.
Both uses of this Greek verb are applicable to what’s going on in American right now. On the one hand, we continue to witness the mistreatment and oppression of people of color, while on the other, there are countless people, like myself, who are simply “tired, fed up, and distressed” by all this mistreatment and oppression.
“Tired and fed up” of the mistreatment and oppression of his fellow man Moses took matters into his own hands. But Moses’ way was not God’s way. We cannot counter hate with hate. Rather, in the words of Martin Luther King, “We must overcome hate with love.”
And as we march toward this love, let’s do so while assuming the posture of R.A. Torrey immortal words, “Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all pray.”
Not just pray, but work–with each person doing his or her part to bring about meaningful and lasting change in a nation plagued with and by racism.