15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” (1 Sam 1:15-16)
14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested[a] as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Black Mothers are so tired. Tired of seeing their young men killed, gunned down, murdered, abused, mutilated, and treated like they are 3/5th of a human being, treated less than one would treat their own canine or feline.
What can young black men and black women do in America? One unknown writer wrote: We can’t livestream (#Sean Reed); We can’t go jogging (#Ahmaud Arbery); We can’t relax in the comfort of our own homes (#Bothem Sean and #Atatiana Jefferson); We can’t ask for help after being in a car crash (#Jonathan Ferrell and #Renisha McBride); We can’t have a cellphone (#Stephon Clark); We can’t leave a party to get to safety (#Jordan Edwards); We can’t play loud music (#Jordan Davis); We can’t sell CD’s (#Alton Sterling); We can’t sleep (#Aiyana Jones); We can’t walk from the corner store (#Mike Brown).; We can’t play cops and robbers (#Tamir Rice); We can’t go to church (#Charleston9); We can’t walk home with Skittles (#Trayvon Martin); We can’t hold a hair brush while leaving our own bachelor party (#Sean Bell); We can’t party on New Years (#Oscar Grant); We can’t get a normal traffic ticket (#Sandra Bland); We can’t lawfully carry a weapon (#Philando Castile); We can’t break down on a public road with car problems (#Corey Jones); We can’t shop at Walmart (#John Crawford); We can’t have a disabled vehicle (#Terrence Crutcher); We can’t read a book in our own car (#Keith Scott); We can’t be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#Clifford Glover); We can’t decorate for a party (#Claude Reese); We can’t ask a cop a question (#Randy Evans); We can’t cash our check in peace (#Yvonne Smallwood); We can’t take out our wallet (#Amadou Diallo); We can’t run (#Walter Scott); We can’t breathe (#Eric Garner); We can’t live (#Freddie Gray).
This is frustration produced by anxiety from being Black in America. Despite raising decent sons and daughters, taught to be respectful, honest, and God-fearing, Black sons and daughters find themselves too often attacked and maimed for no reason. Murdered, killed, brutalized for being Black in America.
Yes, Black mothers are tired; we are all tired. Tired of making hashtags on social media. Tired of trying to convince America that our #BlackLivesMatter too. All this Spring Quarter we have been studying about justice in our Sunday School Lessons, the same lessons white America reads on Sunday Morning. Somehow, at the same time white people are learning about justice, most white churches and some black churches are woefully silent on the atrocities being perpetrated on people of color in America and the world.
Throughout history, when anxiety and frustration set in a community, it has been praying mothers who made the difference. Praying mothers who went before the throne of grace and sought help from a living God, a God able to make a difference and to raise up leaders who would allow peace and justice to reign. Women who would band together and appeal to the powers that be for justice, action against oppression, and equitable treatment based upon the dignity of all persons and based on the standard of equal justice under the laws of the land. Beloved, a praying mother, one who cries through her anxiety and frustration due to experiencing evil in the world, is a mighty force for good in the land. Never underestimate the power of a praying woman. Hallelujah!
Hannah is a case in point. She is miserable. She is living in a polyamorous relationship with her husband Elkanah and his other wife Peninnah. Peninnah had sons and daughters while Hannah had no children. Peninnah provoked her often and belittled, humiliated, and frustrated her every day. The fact that Hannah was barren caused unbearable friction in Elkanah’s household.
Hannah wanted a child, yearned for a child, and she understood that if she got in the presence of God, God would answer her plea. She prayed so diligently, until she had prayed herself weak. Her voice was gone, but her lips were still moving. Her voice was gone but her heart was still praying. Her voice was gone but her spirit had touched heaven and it appeared as if she was in a spiritual stupor. She had become so engrossed in the act of prayer until Eli thought her drunk, that tells you how out of touch he was. Lord, have mercy! Sometimes, those we expect to be able to tell when we’re in the presence of God, just are not there. They are dealing with their own drama and mistake you getting your breakthrough for foolishness. But hold on, God knows and God hears your heart’s cry.
Hannah said to Eli, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” Hannah had pressed her way into the presence of God, she knew the key was getting before the throne and getting her petition before him. So, she pressed her way and once the man of God knew what was going on, he added his faith to her faith, and said, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” I’m telling you this morning that a praying woman, a determined woman who lays it all on the altar will hear from heaven beloved. God will hear and God will answer! Hallelujah!
Nothing is more powerful than a woman who cries out of her own personal anxiety and frustration when evil has come and devastated her world. Evil has come inside her front door and taken the life of her child. Such is the case of the mothers of those children whose names I called. Imagine the anxiety and frustration each mother feels. What sustains her, what calms her, what allows her strength to be emboldened rather than weakened?
The key can be found in Hannah’s actions and in following the advice of the writer of Hebrews. Hannah demonstrates the power of prayer to effect change in your situation. The Hebrew writer suggests prayer as the key to getting God’s attention and bringing justice to bear on unjust situations.
According to Jack Scott’s May 8th article in The Red & Black Online Newspaper, “On Feb. 23, Gregory and Travis McMichael killed Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black jogger, in Satilla Shores in Brunswick, Georgia. After two months, a full video of the killing and a wave of public outrage, the men were finally arrested on May 7. The case will go to a grand jury, but only after the end of a statewide judicial emergency currently in effect until June 12. The two-month delay is a failure of justice all on its own, but even more so because the case’s outcome is legitimately uncertain.”
From February until May 8, Wanda Cooper, Ahmaud’s mother had to cry out of her anxiety and frustration. No news reports on CNN or MSNBC, ABC, or CBS. No headline news or NBC coverage. For 90 days, this mother had to suffer the disrespect and disinterest of white reporters on the local and national level. In their eyes, it was just another story about another black child killed in America. It was not frontline news material, rather the antics of Donald Trump and his handling of COVID19 received their attention.
But God heard the cry of this mother. How do you know that God heard her Reverend. Because she declared on her Facebook page, “God is My Strength,” even before this incident occurred. And since this tragic killing of her son, she has had the support of the Lord as she goes through frustration that would certainly destroy a person who does not depend on God. This is her baby boy, a son that she had just celebrated his birthday and encouraged him to continue being the son she knew and to accomplish those things she knew he could accomplish. Running for him was regular, not some strange occurrence. And so she never thought two white men would pull up on her son with a third trailing in the rear and take his life.
One mother said, “My emotions have not changed much. I still look to God for revenge and justice. However, I am very angry and I am very tired. And if Ahmaud’s mother isn’t, then something is severely wrong. I am numb in some way. I found myself asking what more does God want us to do? Asking God what is it that we are not doing as a people, to where we are forever bound to this life of torture, this fast track to death, and this existing but not living state. But when I think I hear the answer, I feel exhausted and paralyzed from depression and weariness. That’s where I am.”
When you have reached your breaking point, remember God is working behind the scenes. The writer of Hebrews declares, “14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested[a] as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
The video surfaced garnering national outrage. The cry for justice drowned out the cry for racism and bigotry. The campaign for justice is in full effect. Arrests were made and the investigation is ongoing. Ahmaud Arbery’s deaf will not go quietly into the night. His blood is crying from the ground and our God is orchestrating the actions to follow.
God’s grace and mercy will sustain Wanda Cooper and Ahmaud’s father because God is their strength. And so finally, we have come to far to be tired. Evil is ramping up its attacks on our personhood and our liberties. There is too much work to do for us to get too tired to fight these atrocities. So rise up church, rise up and call on the Name of the Lord. The battle is not over, let us lift high the royal banner of the Lord. This battle is not ours, it is the Lord’s. And our God hears the cries of a mother out of her anxiety and frustration with the troubles of this world. Amen. Amen. Amen.