One word in Tok Pisin, the main trade language of Papua New Guinea, expresses a feeling no English word can quite capture. A hevi is a situation with shades of stress and anxiety, conflict and anger, trouble and heartache and grief.

I don’t often struggle to find words to wrap around my thoughts, but at the end of this strange summer, hevi is the only word that feels right.

A global pandemic, racial tension, political chaos in so many countries … This year has set the stage for humanity’s brokenness to be on full display.

But I think the heaviest hevi is the brokenness in the Church. Here we are in a season that desperately needs Jesus, but we’re so busy shouting each other down, elevating our own rights, and fighting for our own agendas that we’ve forgotten how to live and love in the humility of Christ. We claim to be brothers and sisters, but we’re divided by hollow theologies built on angry news stories, caustic social media posts, fearful theories, and shifting public opinion instead of being drawn together by our Father’s Word. We’re disoriented, trembling, under assault from without and within.

Some days I wonder how we’re going to make it out in one piece.

One thing for sure about this season is that Satan is working for the destruction of God’s people and trying to bring dishonor to His Name. Our enemy is coming after us, no question.

The other morning I woke up deeply discouraged by some online behavior I had witnessed the night before. How can people say they follow Jesus while treating others with such blind arrogance?

My Bible weighed more than usual as I found my place in the Psalms. Heavy pages. Heavy shoulders. Heavy heart.

Do you see us down here in this hevi, Lord? Can you even recognize us through the mess?

The bookmark lay across Psalm 31. As I started reading, I found myself substituting “your people” and “us” where David said “I” and “me”:

“O LORD, your people have come to you for protection; don’t let us be disgraced. Save us, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to us; rescue us quickly. Be our rock of protection, a fortress where we will be safe. You are our rock and our fortress. For the honor of your name, lead us out of this danger” (v.1-3, NLT, paraphrased)

Yes, for the honor of Your Name. We’re doing a pretty good job of muddying it right now.

 “Pull us from the trap our enemies set for us, for we find protection in you alone … We will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen our troubles, and you care about the anguish of our souls. You have not handed us over to our enemies but have set us in a safe place” (v.4, 7-8, paraphrased).

You haven’t given up on us. You see our troubles, and you haven’t handed us over to our enemies.

 “How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues … So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD!” (v.19-20, 24)

You hide us in your presence. In Yourself.

 The Church in the U.S. may start to look different on the other side of this season. Some of our trappings and privileges may fall away. Our numbers may drop as really living the gospel becomes more costly and people who’ve been just playing the game get tired of it. We may even be persecuted at some point, the way the Church is many other areas of the world.

But no matter what our earthly future looks like, the Body of Christ is not at risk. No hevi, no amount of opposition or suffering, ugliness or division can keep us from arriving in eternity whole, healed, and unified. We are not permanently broken. The enemy’s plans will fail, because we’re loved, sheltered, hidden.

Safe. No matter what.

1 Comment

  1. Rhonda
    Aug 24, 2020

    Hevi. What a fabulous word. Thank you for sharing it and capturing so articulate the groaning I also feel.

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