My heart is heavy God. My heart aches for my black brothers and sisters who have allowed their pain to make them take their eyes off you. My heart aches for my black brothers and sisters who have become convinced that this praying thing is not enough. My heart aches for my black brothers and sisters who are choosing to stray from you because of the oppression of black people. They have loss sight of the bigger narrative. God, I don’t know how to fully convey what’s in my heart, but this burden is overwhelming. We are allowing anger and bitterness to overtake us. Some of us have exalted our blackness above our God! Father I know it must hurt your heart to see how in this pain we are doubting your love for us, we have forgotten that you sent your son to die for our brown skins too. We have allowed our anger to cause us to tune our ears to the lies of the enemy and fight a spiritual battle with carnal weapons.
Teach us God to guard our hearts. Help us understand that choosing to repeatedly forgive the ongoing offense of racism doesn’t make us lose our black card, it just helps us to maintain our kingdom citizenship. Help us understand that our willingness to guard our hearts against roots of bitterness and refusing to sit and stew in the offense doesn’t mean we are excusing the sin of racism it just means we are more interested in imitating Christ and His humility and His willingness to forgive. God help us realize that you see the injustices. You have not turned a blind eye to our pain, and that we should run to you and not to those in the world who look like us for comfort and strategy! God let us mature and not use our pain as an excuse to remain in a place of immaturity and respond to racism in our flesh. Help us remember that this is a perfect opportunity to let our lights shine beyond our pain so you can be glorified in our response and racist souls be drawn to you through our actions. Help us remember that despite our pain, we still have a responsibility to carry out the ministry of reconciliation-your way! God, let us remember what is at stake. Let us remember that this world is not our home. Let us live with eternity in mind. Help us realize that as your children you are calling us to a higher plane.
In Jesus’ name, I pray amen.
I get it. Talking about racism can be uncomfortable. As a black Christian woman, I am very much aware of the reality of racism. It is not a figment of people’s imagination, nor is it something that ended years ago. The sin of racism is still very prevalent in our world. So how do I respond as a believer in Christ? Should I sit and stew in anger and allow bitterness to grow in my heart? I cannot and will not let hatred consume me. I can’t and won’t allow the enemy to win. It’s in times like these that I must press into God’s presence because the reality of what’s going on can steal my joy. As I have been spending time with God, He has been reminding me of truths that are a healing balm for my soul during this volatile time. He has reminded me I am in covenant with Him, so while some in the world may hate me because of the color of my skin, I don’t have to succumb to that hate because I am loved with an everlasting love by the creator of the universe. This truth doesn’t erase my pain as a black Christian woman, but it causes me to rise above it! God has also been reminding me that this world is not my home. We live in an evil world, but as a child of God, I am looking for a greater city whose builder and maker is God. In this city, there will be no more crying, no more injustices, no more hatred! This hope keeps me from sinking into a place of despair. As I wait for this day I pray, and I encourage all my brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same.
Many can dismiss all that is going on because it is not their reality. This approach can be even more hurtful to black Christians. If we are all a part of the body of Christ, you should hurt when I hurt, even if my experience is not yours. With all that said, I also don’t believe the church should have the same approach as the world. We should not be caught up with performing for the cameras and putting on false displays of unity in public because it is the “Christian thing” to do. God is not interested in our productions. We cannot fight a spiritual war with carnal weapons. Yes, we should have those tough private conversations with our brothers and sisters in Christ, asking uncomfortable questions, being vulnerable, admitting to what we don’t know and understand. The point of the conversation should be to bring understanding where it is lacking and provide a safe place to voice our hurts. It is not about making one group feel guilty while making another group feel like they are complaining about minor issues. But we must not stop at talking, we must prioritize prayer! Talking can only accomplish so much while prayer can bring down strongholds. In prayer, God gives us wisdom on how we as the church should respond. It is unfortunate because many believers are looking at the news and social justice groups to know how to respond during this time. WRONG ANSWER! We gain wisdom from God, not from man’s wisdom. Authentic prayers prayed from humble hearts birth real unity, brings healing, and helps us to maintain the proper perspective.
Most are familiar with John 3:16 that speak of God loving us so much that He gave His only son to die on the cross for our sins. We may even quote other scriptures such as John 15:13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We often quote these scriptures, but sometimes there is a disconnect with what we confess and how we live. It’s easy to reflect on Jesus and what He did for us during specific times of the year, especially Lent where we commemorate Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. We make sacrifices; we give up certain foods and entertainment, but what happens when Lent ends? What happens after Resurrection Sunday? It’s unfortunate because many slowly go back to their old way of living and are not as intentional about being consecrated unto God. What Jesus did for us on the cross is not to be contained to a certain time on the calendar. Jesus’ shed blood invites us to make consecration a lifestyle and not an event! Remember, God is more interested in sincere obedience and surrender than he is an artificial level of sacrifice. The shed blood of Jesus and His resurrection makes it possible for us to be holy as He is holy all of our days! God has every right to require consecration and surrender from us. We shouldn’t have an attitude or reject God’s command for us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. Considering that Jesus shed His blood for us, a consecrated and surrendered life is the least we can do, it is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
God is not afraid of our questions. He is big enough to handle them. However, many times we are not asking God why because we sincerely want to understand His will. Instead, our questions come from a prideful and untrusting heart, one that thinks it knows better than God. Some questions are sincere where the seeker really wants to understand why God said or did certain things. But there are some who ask those same questions, and they are disinterested in God’s answer. They are more interested in God accepting what they think the correct answer should be. Their question reveals that they want God to embrace their will instead of them embracing His! Are you sincerely seeking an answer when you ask why; or do you ask why, intending to accuse God and question His goodness? There is a great distinction between the two.
I become easily disgruntled if I remain stuck at always asking “why?” It keeps me on a hamster wheel and I am left frustrated and confused. Instead of asking God why He allows certain things, I think the question I have to ask myself is, do I believe God is who He says He is? Perhaps I should interview myself instead of interviewing God. When I face difficult circumstances that seem to contradict God’s word, when I experience pain beyond what I feel my heart can take, when the answer is no when I am convinced it should be yes; I have to go back to that secret place and ask myself some questions. Do I believe God is who He says He is and do I trust Him? Do I believe He is sovereign? Do I trust that He has my best interest at heart? Do I trust He knows the end from the beginning? Do I trust He is as loving as He claims to be? If I can answer yes to the above questions then I won’t get hung up and all the “whys?” Not that I never ask, but I don’t remain stuck in trying to understand it all. I conclude knowing that even if I don’t know and understand the why’s, my loving God does, and that is good enough so I rest in Him!
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
I’m no stranger to the walls of a hospital.
I’ve been here before.
I am familiar with the beeping of the machines, the whispers of the nurses, and the concerned speeches of the doctors about the diagnosis.
I have been here before.
Twice I entered these hospital walls with a baby in my womb only to leave with a sewn heart to remind me of the baby that didn’t leave with me in my arms. Miscarriages.
I have been here before.
I entered these walls ready to give birth to blessings #5. I was filled with joy and anticipation about meeting my new bundle of joy. But three days later I left with a heavy heart, lots a of paperwork and no baby in my arms. Things took a turn for the worse and I had to leave my brand new baby behind in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). One month and two surgeries later, I brought him home with instructions on how to tend to my brand new baby who now had an ileostomy and scars on his body from surgery. I also knew that a third surgery was in his future. I left those walls excited but feeling extremely inadequate because of all that was going to be required to tend to our baby.
I have been here before.
My water broke…12 weeks early. I had to go on bed rest in the hospital. So much about this pregnancy was already delicate. They told us blessing #6 would be born with a chromosomal abnormality and heart defect among many other complications and that was if she even made it out of my womb alive. I sat on bed rest behind those hospital walls praying for a miracle. All their efforts to keep the baby in the womb expired after 15 days. It was time for me to give birth….10 weeks early. After her delivery, my husband and I sat there in silence. No chance to hear or see the 2 lb 6 oz gift I had just delivered. They immediately rushed her to the NICU and ran many tests. Two hours later we could finally see her but the many machines and contraptions on her face and tiny body formed a wall between our bodies but not our hearts. Three days later I left those walls, and again there was no baby in my arms. I left with a heavy heart for my sweet baby girl who I had to leave behind at the NICU. A little over a month later I left those walls with a fragile baby but a grateful heart.
I have been here before.
And here I am again.
This time me and my husband entered these hospital walls in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The hospital was one of the last place we wanted to be, but we had no choice. My husband carried our ten-year-old’s frail and pain ridden body to the emergency room. We didn’t know what was going on. For days he had been lethargic and quickly loosing weight. Things took a turn for the worse early that morning. He came in our room, short of breath, super dehydrated, and complaining of abdominal pain. He threw up and also had diarrhea. We prayed and as his health continued to decline; we rushed him to the emergency room. They poked him, drew blood, ran many tests and come back to let us know it was not the dreaded COVID 19 virus instead it was the onset of type 1 diabetes. Unknowing to us, his body was not producing insulin, and he was experiencing what they call diabetic ketoacidosis; a condition where your body produces high levels of blood acids. If left untreated, Elijah could have fallen into a coma and ultimately die. They immediately started him on insulin trips. They told us he was in critical condition, and they transferred him via ambulance to the ICU of another hospital. Every hour they poked him, drew his blood and ran test until he was stabilized early in the morning on RESURRECTION SUNDAY. They inundated us with information on type 1 diabetes, how to check his blood sugar and how to administer insulin at home. Three days later we are leaving with lots of paperwork and medicine for a type 1 diabetic patient. All of it is overwhelming, but we are also grateful to leave these walls with a child who stared death in the face and came out alive!
Yes, I have been here before.
But never have I been here alone.
For every painful and unexpected news I’ve received behind these walls, God has been right here with me. Never leaving me without hope, even when I was experiencing loss.
He’s flooded my heart with a peace I couldn’t understand,
Gave me a praise even when the diagnosis was not what I wanted and taught me to pray real raw prayers.
Behind these walls, he has taught me he is good, even when the circumstances are less than ideal.
These walls won’t cause me to question God’s faithfulness, on the contrary they have confirmed that He is who He says He is!
These walls won’t push me to curse God and die, instead they have produced a greater surrender and sweeter communion with Him!
These walls have never closed in on me, because God has always been right there with me-to comfort, to love, to give me an eternal perspective.
I’ve seen a lot behind these walls and each time I leave with a greater revelation of God; pain has a way of doing that.
Yes, I have been here before
But make no mistake, I have never been here alone.
Idols are falling all around us, and the temptation is there to create new ones instead of turning to the one true God. Some of our idols are education, vanity, sports, pleasure, consumerism, money, our jobs, and even church programs just to name a few. The schools, beauty parlors, sports organizations, restaurants, cruise ships, retail stores, and Disney World are closing. Jobs are telling people to work from home, and the market is not looking too hot right now. The things we have put our trust in and run to for comfort and security are being cancelled, they are failing us. Let me just say that these things are not evil in and of themselves, but when they take first place in our lives, then we have crossed over into idol worship. We have sacrificed so much on the altar of the aforementioned, mainly our relationship with God. He tells us in Exodus 20:1 that we are not to have any other Gods but Him. And now He has our attention, how are we responding? Instead of running to God, many are busy creating new idols, finding other things to sit on the throne of our hearts.
Some of us told God we would spend more time with Him if that time were available. What are we doing with the time we now have since so many things are cancelled and inaccessible? Does our current use of time prove that we were lying, that we were just offering lip service, and telling God what we thought He wanted to hear. Times of difficulty helps to reveal our motives. How long will our hearts be hardened, how long will we resist God, how hard does it have to get for us to give God what He deserves; our life, our surrender! While many things are being cancelled, let us not CANCEL OUR PURSUIT OF GOD! He is a firm foundation and the only sure thing in these times of uncertainty.