You Have Something to Say
Devotional 6 of 10
Lord, we thank you for the power of your Word. We surrender our words, our thoughts, and our actions to you and ask that you fill us anew. Strengthen us to be vessels of courage to speak your words at the right time, in the right way, so that others may experience your glorious presence.
Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and needy.
On September 18, 1963, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. mounted a pulpit in Birmingham to deliver a speech he never wanted to give: the eulogy of innocent girls killed in a bombing at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Carol Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14) all lost their lives in an act of hatred perpetrated upon a church one Sunday morning.
Had these girls not been in church that day, had they not decided to sing in the choir, had they not gone to the basement to change into their robes, had they been somewhere else in the building when the bomb exploded, they might have lived. But just three days after their deaths, Rev. King approached the pulpit at a funeral he never wanted to witness.
The natural impulse of grief and shock would have urged him to remain silent. The weight of the moment would have robbed him of words, but he could not sit quietly. Dr. King had to speak because the victims had something to say: “And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death.… Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.”
There are many times in life when we would rather keep silent. Grief, fear, sorrow, or anger may tempt us to think only of ourselves and to refrain from words for our own sake. Yet Scripture reminds us that our words, our voices, are not just our own. We are part of the human family and it is our duty to speak for those whose voices may not otherwise be heard.
We are called to speak up for people who need help. We are called to give voice to those who feel they have no say. We are encouraged to speak in such a way that would protect the vulnerable, provide for the poor, condemn wickedness, and lift up those in need.
This was Dr. King’s calling and it is ours today. Our world needs people, believers just like you, who are not afraid to speak when it may be easier to be silent. And should we doubt or worry about what to say, Jesus reminds us not to fear, “For the words you speak will not be yours; they will come from the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11b).
Questions for personal thought or group discussion:
1. Who comes to mind when you think of people who “cannot speak for themselves”?
2. What are the barriers that keep us from speaking up on behalf of the most vulnerable in our communities?
3. How might God be calling you to be a voice for the voiceless on issues of justice? Prayerful consider how you can respond to this call by creating a plan for when, how, and to whom you can speak.
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