So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me. Genesis 16:13, ESV
I’ll never forget the day I watched a racist bank customer refuse to let a woman of color help him.
I was standing at the teller counter when an older, white gentleman walked in. He had a file folder tucked under his arm and indicated he needed an account specialist – someone who worked at the desks across from the lobby.
It was obvious that two specialists, both women, were working that day. One of them was assisting other customers, she was white. The other specialist was available to help him – she was black.
When she saw him sit down in the waiting area, she immediately got up and walked across the lobby, her modest high heels made a clicking sound.
“Sir, can I help you?”
He sat still, head down, and didn’t even look up as he replied. Apparently, he’d noticed her when he walked in. Or, he saw the color of her feet peeking out the top of her shoes.
Awkward silence grew into a dramatic pause. Time stood still in the bank until the woman turned around and walked back to her desk.
“Does he know the other person who is working? Does he need to sit down for a few minutes?”
I had no clue why he wouldn’t receive her help, or offer any explanation, until I realized what I’d just witnessed.
I’d heard stories and read books about it, but I’d never watched something quite like this firsthand. Although it was a minor incident compared to the horror stories of history, intense emotions rose up inside of my chest.
In about two seconds, I went from naive and confused to disgusted and horrified. I wanted to march over and slap the gentleman, or at least ask the bank to refuse him service. I was ready to protest, sit in and picket the place – maybe even call the media.
I was really turned off by her co-workers who’d seen it too – they did nothing other than stare and then return to their computer screens a few moments later.
It was unnerving.
As I wrapped up my transaction with the teller, I wanted to do something to show racism is not OK. In an act that was 100% the Holy Spirit inside of me (because my flesh was ready drop kick an old man), I simply walked over to the woman on my way out and apologized.
“I’m so sorry, that’s not right,” I said with a shaking head and trembling hands.
She looked at me with sad, yet grace-filled eyes. I couldn’t tell if she was disgusted too, but she was handling the situation much better than me. Her inner peace helped me keep my self-control.
She seemed to know something I’d soon discover.
Just like God made himself known to Hagar, a girl in the Bible who got tired of abuse, He’s not absent from our injustices either. And, He’s watching.
But before we scribble a rude sign, post a defensive comment or get hostile with an offender, we must find God’s way and discern how He wants us to act. We don’t have to react out of our disgust, we can respond with wisdom. Especially during times of injustice, El Roi – the God who sees, looks out for us. One day, He will make all things new – and turn every wrong into something right.
Prayer: God, help me wisely handle my disgust when I see injustices. Give me peace and show me how to respond in a Godly way.