A devotional to increase the faith of the Black community & the oppressed
Before we get started, I want to give some background to myself and my motivation for writing this devotional. Amidst all the chaos in this country, I acknowledge that the mental state and faith of Black people is suffering. Christians everywhere are losing hope, especially those in the Black community. While there are many sources of light that already exist, I could not find a devotional plan that directly speaks to the pain and sufferings of the Black community at this point. Of course, we know the promises of our great and gracious God however, I think many really need more specific support and love.
Whether you are new to the faith, dipping your toe in, or have been devout and still feel the anguish of the world, I am writing this for you. I feel as though a devotional plan that has to do with trusting Jesus in the midst of racism and oppression would be so beneficial to Black people and allies of such. I think there have been times where Black Christians have felt disenfranchised from church communities, persecuted, and or not supported by fellow christians. I know our spiritual well being is suffering but I believe that we will breath again. The breath of life is within us.
Day 1: Acknowledging the Hurt
Thinking about the wrongful and unjust deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmahd Arbery, Stephon Clark, and so many more, it is so deeply painful and aggravating to think about and sit with. Trusting in God’s providence comes much more easily when the world makes sense, but how do we trust in that same providence when the world does not make sense and evil seems to be taking over? How do we believe God when he says he has not forsaken us when people who look like you are being taken all too soon and for no good reason? The pain runs deep when you see your mother, father, sister, brother, niece, nephew, grandchildren and so on in the faces of George, Breonna, Ahmad, Sandra and so many. You might find yourself asking God, “when will it end?” or “why are we still fighting this fight?” You might find yourself angry that other believers have nothing good and gracious to offer during this time. How can one proclaim the gospel and justify an unjust death in the same sentence? The scenarios of pain goes on, but nonetheless, they exist. It is natural to see all of the negativity of the world because it is the same sin that required Jesus in the first place.
When I think about acknowledging hurt, I reflect back on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I know for me personally, whenever I am experiencing a deep pain or sadness I just want God to take away those feelings. If it were up to me, I would not have to experience such anguish; I would push off those feelings or make excuses as to why I should just be okay. I think more often than not, people would most prefer to not experience hurt in any form- I mean, who actually wants suffering? Unfortunately, if we are trying to follow in Jesus’ most perfect example that is not really an option for us. Jesus’ humanity shows as he wept in the garden:
Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.”
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (MT 26:38-39)
Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” (MT 26:42)
These verses strike deeply, that even the Lord himself would ask to be absolved of the pain and anguish he was experiencing. Jesus knew that it was his mission and that it was his cross to bear, but even in a small moment he too would prefer to not experience such pain. While we are obviously not Jesus, we can align ourselves with him in this moment. We can envision ourselves in the garden alongside the Lord asking, “if it is possible, make this pain and suffering pass without having to undergo, but even still your will shall be done!”
I know you might be experiencing difficulty in sitting with this deep hurt. I know you might be feeling like there’s little to no hope left. Your pain is not in vain. Your pain is valid. Your pain has purpose. I don’t believe it was the will of God for the Black community to suffer like this, nor was it in His great plan but God has allowed us to take this pain and use it for glory when we unite it to the suffering of Christ. I challenge you to acknowledge your pain with God today. Close your eyes and sit in the garden alongside Jesus as he wept. Find comfort in knowing that your pain has purpose.
Prayer: Lord, as I weep today I know that your son wept in the garden of Gethsemane. I pray that I can internalize the simple truth that I am not alone and that you are with me. Help me to understand that this cup shall pass and that your will be done. Guide me throughout the days to come, help me to better serve you even in grief. Thank you for sending your one and only son so that I might experience your unconditional grace and love. Amen.
Full Reading: The Agony in the Garden
36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,* and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” 39 He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” 43 Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. 44 He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. 45 Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. 46 Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.”