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COLUMNS

Stubblefield: Faith and hope will always have the final word

Staff Writer
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Faith has long been a vitally important, foundational component of the Black community. The New Living Translation of the Bible tells us that, “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us the assurance about things we cannot see.” For hundreds of years, the faith of the Black community has withstood the numerous floodwaters of attacks by other people groups against its humanity. We have been legally enslaved, murdered, and beaten. We have been falsely imprisoned, exposed to public ridicule, socially criminalized, and politically victimized. I wish I could say to my baby boy that the terrible suffering experienced by Black people is all in the past, and that he doesn’t have to worry about having any of those same experiences. But he’s not a baby anymore. He’s a 27-year-old millennial with his own children. Now, he hopes that one day he can say to them that the stormy attacks against Black humanity are a thing of the past. He has confidence that what he is hoping for will actually happen. He has faith. He hopes.

Biblically, hope can be defined as a positive expectation of good. An acronym for hope, which captures the Biblical definition well, is Having Only Positive Expectations. For years, federal, state and local policy makers have told Black communities to expect improvements in the quality of life conditions within their neighborhoods. We have been told that affirmative action would be taken against policies promoting systemic racism and creating inequities, which lead to disparate outcomes and marginalized, low-income communities. This message has been told to those of us in Black America for years, and it is still being communicated to us today, even while we suffer fresh wounds from the senseless recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arberry, and George Floyd, by those associated with law enforcement. The Black American community is still experiencing attacks against its humanity.

The connection between the hope for positive outcomes for Black communities and the actual manifestation of those outcomes appear to be nonexistent. And, when the connections that are suggested within the meaning of words are nonexistent, then words are just words. Therefore, real meaning exists, not within the words spoken, but within the people who speak them and within the actions they themselves display. Communication, then, is more clearly defined as an exchange of meanings and understandings. Sadly to say, in more and more of these exchanges, I find honesty and truth to be vagabonds, often distant and aloof: vagrants, loitering outside the conversations of social reform, passively flirting with the hope of being offered admission.

Indeed, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that, "in any social revolution there are times when the tailwinds of triumph and fulfillment favor us, and other times when strong headwinds of disappointment and setbacks beat against us relentlessly. We must not permit adverse winds to overwhelm us as we journey across life’s mighty Atlantic; we must be sustained by our engines of courage in spite of the winds. This refusal to be stopped, this 'courage to be,' this determination to go on 'in spite of' is the hallmark of any great movement."

If I’m being honest and truthful, as a Black pastor, my hope has suffered some erosion from the fiery storms of racism. Winds of incendiary rhetoric have created a conflagration of chaos. But on the night of Monday, June 1, 2020, those flames were smothered by one of the strongest displays of harmonic unity that Lubbock, Texas, has ever seen! There were no shouts, chants, nor cheers in this silent walk, but it spoke volumes! There was no rioting nor looting, just civic leaders, business owners and citizens from every Lubbock neighborhood walking and standing in solidarity, being both living sacrifices and breathing epistles! On this night, the people of Lubbock stood under the grace of God in Christ Jesus to be a light shining out of the darkness and a voice crying out of the wilderness! On this night, if only but for a mustard seed moment in time, people of all color, of all backgrounds, all ages, and from all walks of life, came together with one heart, with one mind, and on one accord, for the sole purpose of being united, and being a visible image of hope! Thank you, Lubbock.

Heavenly Father, there have been a lot of storms going on around me lately. Most have been very troubling and confusing, and others have been frightening and disturbing. But, the main thing they’ve been is distracting: they have caused me to take my eyes off of You. I am not ashamed to admit that. So, I relinquish control and give You back the power, Lord Jesus, realizing that You DO know what’s best for me! Speak Your Word of Peace, over the raging storms of my life, and keep me on top of that thing which desires to take me under!

"For if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the Doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know."

- Council of Trent, 1551

Bill Stubblefield is the Senior Pastor of The Difference Maker’s Fellowship and serves as Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Lubbock ISD.