Focus Scripture – 2 Timothy 3: 14-17
For many Black women of faith, the Bible has served as a guidebook to which they have turned for comfort, using Jesus as their source of healing and redemption. Although she is not always the subject of the narratives in the Bible, she has often had to envision herself as the central character of her own story. She sees in those narratives a Jesus who loves her from everlasting to everlasting. And she trusts him to take on her brokenness so that she might be free.
Remarkably, while her survival strategies have been based on wisdom brewed in a cauldron of pain, resentment, anger, and despair and her experiences speak of sadness, sorrow, and struggle, she has held onto her hope. She garnered hope from her Bible that told her “[S]uffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). Down through the ages, her Bible, then, has been her survival manual. Ironically, it was one of the only books her taskmasters gave her access to when she was enslaved. The slave masters meant it to be a mechanism for control, but God meant it to be a source of deliverance. And by God’s grace, her attention was drawn not to the passages that would keep her in subservience. Instead, as she searched for her identity, her attention was drawn to those passages that contained stories of victory and healing, even as she recalled her past.
She didn’t know Hebrew or Greek, but she read her Bible as a manual for survival. She clings to her hope that God will move on her behalf in God’s way and in God’s own time, according to God’s eternal plan and according to God’s holy will. So she puts her trust in God and makes a vow to walk by faith and not by sight. In the process, she recalls the songs her foremothers used to sing: “I’m so glad that troubles don’t last always.” She hopes with her whole heart that if she puts her faith in God, all will be resolved in the end – in this world or the next. Her Bible tells her that God will eventually turn war into peace, causing people to beat their swords into plowshares. Her Bible has espoused wisdom of the ages, wisdom based on faith. Hence, her faith is resilient, even if all else fails.
In many cases when the wounded Black woman of faith cannot find herself in the literal words of the text, she insinuates herself into the biblical story. Acting on her faith, she appropriates God’s love, anticipates God’s equal protection, and expects God’s grace. Her Bible tells her it will be all right to trust in God. What God had done for others, God will do for her.
Because her trials are big, the wounded black woman of faith has had to envision for herself a God who is big enough to bring her through any situation she may face in her hostile environment. Her God is the Lord of Hosts – the commander of a great army with a strategic plan that stretches from everlasting to everlasting. Not only that, as she has read or heard stories from the Hebrew text it has become clear to her that hers is the ostentatious God who delivered enslaved people out of bondage in Egypt. Hers is the mighty God who marked the deliverance with spectacular and miraculous deeds. Her God is one of compassion, the God who sustained a weary people while they languished in Babylonian exile. Her God is the healing God who applied balm to her wounds when she was abused and oppressed, cast aside and ignored. In her mind, nothing is too hard for her God. If God loved and protected the daughter of Zion, God will surely also love and protect wounded Black women of faith. When God is on the side of the chosen people, the enemy does not have a chance.