The devaluing of black life is a reoccurring nightmare that the collective subconscious of black America can’t shake. We are haunted when all signs point to this blatant devaluing yet again. News broke last Tuesday, April 7th about a white police officer named Michael Slager shooting an unarmed black man named Walter Scott, as he attempted to run from the officer. Initially the officer claimed a scuffle ensued, and he feared for his life because Scott had taken his stun gun.

A video of the incident surfaced and the footage showed quite a different story. Scott, for reasons unknown to us, did try to run from the officer. The officer then drew his weapon and fired several shots at Scott’s back, killing him. Scott was about 20 feet from the officer. No threat to the officer was apparent. The injustice was further compounded when the officer callously walked over to Scott’s dead body, handcuffed him, and seemingly attempted a cover up by planting his stun gun next to Scott’s body.

Dreary and Hopeless

This event comes months after the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers, and less than two years after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case. Black Americans continue to reel over the deaths of their own. In the midst of the pain, these circumstances, coupled with the history of injustice towards blacks, often paint a dreary, hopeless picture in their minds.

Will things ever get better? Are we doomed to forever drink from the cup of racism and brutality in this country? Our ancestors sung, “We shall overcome some day,” but were they deceived? How is it that in 2015 a black man’s life can be taken with no remorse whatsoever by those who swore to protect it?

These questions trouble us, and rightfully cause discouragement. There are no quick fixes to the plight black Americans face in this country. However, my hope for a better tomorrow will not falter, because I confidently stand in faith knowing although we face trouble all around, God is able to reverse any circumstance, no matter how bleak.

God Hears

The evidence black lives can be valued by others is founded upon faith the God of all life “practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth” (Jer. 9:24). God’s holiness and love towards man gives us hope God will not abandon the plight of those who suffer. Although justice may tarry, in the perfect providence of God, he will set the captives free.

This hope is what anchored and fueled black slaves in the Americas to seek freedom. Slavery was a dehumanizing institution and it was firmly entrenched in societies reaping huge economic benefits from free, forced labor. Yet, black slaves never let their collective spirit be defeated by the Goliath that was slavery. Rather, with confidence that mirrored a young, shepherd boy named David, they determined not to lose heart because God would empower them to fight on. God heard the prayer of black slaves as he heard the prayers of the enslaved Israelites in Egypt, which led to the slavery’s abolishment.

In the aftermath of the abolishment of slavery, blacks faced almost insurmountable challenges through oppressive Jim Crow laws. But blacks again cried out to God, and found strength in institutions like the black church and in God-given leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. In a stunning act of solidarity, Civil Rights leaders saw their cause adopted by people of all races and creeds, as they stood together to eradicate injustice. God showed himself faithful in a perilous circumstance and answered the prayers of his people through sweeping legislation that ended segregation and Jim Crow.

Suffering is Not without Purpose

While there remains much work to be done with regard to racism and oppression in America, I take hope as I reflect on God’s proven faithfulness and love towards black people. He has heard our cries before and will continue to hear them. I take solace in the fact the God of the universe knows what it feels like to suffer unjustly. God chose to suffer and be crucified through the person of Jesus. However, the evil was done to him was not his end.

God vindicated Christ through his resurrection and used the evil committed by men for the good of all those who would be reconciled to God by faith in Christ. The suffering of black Americans is not without purpose in God’s plan. He is able to use these injustices for good.

God’s Commands

Saints, as we think through ways to fight for the sanctity of black lives, let us not grow weary and dejected in our efforts. For God has commanded us to, “seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isa. 1:17).

Why would God command us to do these things if there is no hope for justice to prevail? God will not command his people to do things he does not also enable them to do. If we remain faithful to God in prayer, and overflow with love toward him and our neighbor, he will use us to bring peace to our cities in ways we could not have ever imagined.

We know sin and injustice will always be with us in this age, but God commands us to never yield in hopeless submission to it. God can, and often does, improve the circumstances of those who are being victimized. We must preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and be ever willing to oppose evil however we can.

Black lives do matter. And I remain hopeful there is coming a time when God will embed this truth deeply within the consciousness of American society.


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