Why I Am Sad, Why I Have Joy

When Priscilla and I heard about the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, there were very few words. We put food out on the table for dinner. We sat down. She said, "would you like to pray?" and I shook my head and said nothing. 

The longer the grand jury took to make the decision, the more hopeless I became. With every detail leaked or released - no special prosecutor, National Guard called in, "thug" image of Michael Brown plastered in the media - I became more downcast. But I had to ask myself, why am I sad?

I'm sad because when I was young, I read the Constitution and thought "wow, this is a great country!" And as I got older I realized it was never intended for me or my people. I learned about the 3/5 compromise and Dred Scott and felt less than human regularly reading our history. 

I'm sad because when I visited the University of Virginia I marveled at the institution but then learned how it and every other southern staples were built by slaves. I learned of the sexual abuse and gut-wrenching violence that undergirds our country and my heart sinks. 

I'm sad because I believed that hard work, dedication and perseverance were all that you needed to succeed until I learned about gerrymandering, lobbyists, educational inequity, intentional exclusion and the prison and military industrial complexes. 

I'm sad because I want to be able to look at things on a case by case basis and believe that personal responsibility is the way; but I am 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by a cop than my white brothers. I have a 1 in 3 chance of being incarcerated when my white brothers have a 1 in 30 chance of seeing the inside of a cell. Yes, I am accountable for my actions but this list of tear-inducing statistics continues beyond reason...

I am sad because I was taught in school about the law and to trust it. But it doesn't seem that the law is set up to trust me. 

I am sad because those with the power to transform these things won't change it because it's uncomfortable, hard and some of them benefit from the way that it is. 

I am grieving because some black people will keep their heads down and say just gotta keep moving. Leave them alone and they'll leave you alone.  

I am grieving because pastors and clergy of every color will take to the pulpits, blogs and social media to talk about prosperity or a new sermon series on Thanksgiving and Christmas without any mention of God's heart for justice. 

I am grieving because the number of people who are not black who choose to grieve the injustices perpetrated for generations alongside us is depressingly low; and the number of those who ridicule, redirect, insult, and dismiss us is beyond explanation. 

I shed tears for Michael Brown but the calloused hearts, ignorant minds, and cowardice that I witness in personal interactions, mass and social media drives me to rip my clothes, fall on my face and wail to God because truly, where else can I go? 

There is no refuge, no hiding place, no safety to be found. No safe place for me and my people except for under the shelter of His wings. I have no protection outside of the tent of the most High God. He accepts me. He is not ashamed of me. I am His and He is mine. He calls me "son". He is the foundation of my identity, gave and shaped my ethnicity and clothed me in His righteousness. 

Therefore I will make His place my dwelling place because He is the lifter of my head. There is none like Jesus - no other faith, theology, philosophy or belief system that makes the space necessary for this pain, this grief, this hardship except the Cross of Christ, that lynching tree on Calvary. 

Praise be to God for our suffering Savior, Our Messiah who came to save. Praise be to Our Father in Heaven who proclaims through the Apostle Paul that we are pressed on every side but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. Hallelujah, what a Savior, Deliverer and Friend. He has set the captives free by taking the chains on Himself. He has raised the dead to life and wraps us in His victory. He knows our pain because He was despised, oppressed, betrayed and left out but for the joy set before Him He endured the cross. He took His privilege and gave it up so that everything He had, could be enjoyed by us - His broken, messed up, deeply flawed people. Hallelujah, what a savior. 

I can testify that it is true that He will give you joy for mourning and beauty for ashes. No constitution, protest, grand jury, cop or well-meaning mom or dad can do that. Only Jesus. It is only Jesus for me. 

I have pain that is beyond comprehension but also a joy I don't understand and that NOBODY and NO SYSTEM can ever take away. 

Thanks and praise be to God.