Honoring the Celebration of Black History and Legacy
Here we are in the second month of the year 2021 and almost a full year into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States - a pandemic that has been riddled with much grief and sorrow due to the many lives that have been lost. All happening within our nation that has yet again, in the middle of a pandemic, nevertheless, been forced to contend with its dark history of injustice and racism toward Black America and the ugly force of police brutality and many other racial injustices in the present day.
For historically underserved populations in America, racism and racial injustice are very much alive and seem to be embedded within almost every institution and structure that should otherwise provide protection, goodwill, and justice. We’ve peacefully protested and rallied in the streets against police brutality and injustice. We’ve let out sorrowful cries in hope that the nation and its institutions would finally recognize that our lives matter. These disparities in health and economic stability, are all the more pronounced within this pandemic that continues to disproportionately affect Black and other minority communities. Many have experienced immense loss and continue to mourn the lives of their loved ones.
As a community, we’re hurt. As a community, we’ve been in pain. As a community, we fight and press on.
Particularly as we celebrate and honor Black history, Black legacy, Black heritage and Black culture this Black History Month, against the odds stacked up against us as a people and the systemic nature of the perpetual injustice in our nation, I want to charge us all with one task and that is, Remember.
It is easy to get bogged down and mentally drained by all that is happening around us. I’m sure as you read the first couple of paragraphs and recounted what life has been like for you and your loved ones throughout the past year, you might have even felt anxious, stressed, worried, or even hopeless. Today and every day, I want us to Remember:
Remember that the Lord is Abba. I call Him Abba, Father. When life gets to feel unbearable and I’m not sure how to continue on, I’ve learned to understand my identity as a daughter of God who is loved so dearly by her Heavenly Father. There is nothing that occurs in our lives that He is unaware of. He cares about your burdens and invites you to cast them toward Him. He is the Lord that hears our earnest prayers and cries for justice in our nation and is more than able to answer. As children of God, we are indeed the Lord’s offspring for we have our all in Him. As Father, He remains near, true, and so faithful. (Romans 8:15, 1 Peter 5:7, Acts 17:24-31)
I remember Harriet Tubman, a woman of God who completely dependent on her relationship with God and through the power of the Holy Spirit, led many slaves to freedom from the South. As she answered the call on her life to lead others to freedom, I can imagine the fear and the danger she knew she was in. I can imagine she had no choice but to draw near to Abba, the Father who heard her cries and used her to save others. I can imagine the deep relationship she had with her Heavenly Father as she grew in Christ and listened to the voice of the Lord. I remember every other man and woman, known and unknown, who has fought tirelessly for freedom from slavery and every vile marker of racism in America. I thank the Lord that just as He revealed Himself as Abba to the Harriet Tubmans, Frederick Douglass’, Sojourner Truths - and so many more - is the same way He graciously extends the invitation to each of us to know Him as Abba for ourselves.
So many Black faith leaders, pioneers, and courageous individuals and institutions like the Black church and grassroots organizations led the abolition movement, the Civil Rights movement, and countless other movements birthed since. I thank God for the response of these leaders and forerunners to their convictions that have led to Black lives being changed for the better as time progresses.
Remember that the Lord is the God of All Comfort. Who knew that it would have to take pain and suffering to know and believe in the Lord’s all-encompassing comfort? Yet, here we all are - beneficiaries of the great love of God that allows us to know Him as our Comforter, especially in times of affliction, sorrow, and need. I remember that it is the Lord that has seen me through both tragedy and triumph and has kept me sane in it all. I remember every single individual the Lord has used to extend love, grace and comfort in my own time of grief and mourning at the loss of loved ones. I remember that He is my strength and refuge, and I am eternally grateful that He cares for me so. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Psalm 62:5-8)
I take a long moment to honor our frontline workers, especially those medical providers in the hardest hit regions and communities of color around the country most impacted by the pandemic. When the coronavirus made its way to the United States and took a hard turn for the worse, news outlets and social media sites were flooded with accounts of nurses and doctors shocked and disheartened by the sudden onset of COVID-19 cases in their hospital beds and intensive care units. Glimmers of peace and hope amidst the pain would be shown ever so often of doctors and nurses forming prayer circles, treating patients as if they were family in their final moments succumbing to the deadly virus, coordinating and orchestrating video and phone calls for patients who could not see their families in person during their hospital stay - and the list goes on. As the Lord kept them, they cared for and extended relaxation to so many others. It is only the grace and love of God that allows us to extend assistance from the comfort extended to us in our own distress and heartache to those in need.
Remember that the Lord is the God who Loves Justice and is our Hope. In full transparency, understanding the Lord as the Lord that loves justice and gives hope, strength, and refuge in times of peril has been a difficult perspective for me to hold as it pertains to the continued racial injustice faced by Black lives, communities, and families in America. Although difficult, I challenge myself to believe the Lord and all His attributes are true and that He absolutely fights for the oppressed and loves justice. I challenge myself this Black History Month to reflect on all the Lord has done and continues to do in bringing freedom, hope, and change for a people that have been denied these for generations in our country. I challenge my own perspective and biases and dare to center my hope on the Lord, here too. (Psalm 11:7, Psalm 10:14-18, Romans 15:13)
I remember how the Lord showed up and continued to show up for the Israelites. In captivity, the Lord saw them and heard their cries. He was indeed the refuge of the people of Israel, even if they didn’t immediately see it in their bondage. In deliverance from the hands of the Egyptians, He continued to be their hope and hideaway. In freedom, God asserted Himself as the shelter and protector for all that would obey and trust in Him. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament and in Jesus Christ, we continue to see this same hope and refuge afforded to us through the death and resurrection of our beautiful Savior that gives way for us to be sons and daughters of the Most High!
The celebration of Black History, of course, is not limited to one month, but in this month we can certainly and intentionally take the time to Remember. In honor of the many lives that have come before us, in solidarity and fortitude of all of our lives in the present, and in inspiration and truth for the generations that will come after us, as the Lord gives us strength to stand against and fight injustice, We Will Remember.
We will remember all the work that has been done this far by leaders and communities throughout generations before us as we pray and still fight for justice to prevail in the land. We will recall the mighty hand of the Lord and will believe that His love indeed endures forever. And we pray that the God who loves justice will continue to bring justice to all oppressed people and right the wrongs of systemic racism and racial injustice in America, in Jesus name.
Happy Black History Month!