Lift Every Voice & Sing (2nd Stanza)
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
The second verse of Lift Every Voice & Sing has always felt like a testimony to me. Truly, despite all of its beauty, life contain struggles. Very few of us are able to experience significant success with overcoming real adversity.
Several years ago I was an avid fan of A&E’s Biography. What captured me about the show was it graphic depictions of how much tragedy so many celebrities had experienced in their lives. Regardless of their success or fame, many of them had to live through tremendous pain, loss or embarrassment. Those who achieved success were the ones who were able to keep moving forward despite circumstances.
In America, February has been designated as Black History Month. Personally, I regard needing a Black History Month as a glaring example that America still has huge issues with race and racial equality. In fact, America still has issues with equality period. Income, jobs, prison sentences, school funding, housing, college acceptances, and cancer survival rates are all indicators rife with signs of inequality in America.
Yet let the words of James Weldon Johnson encourage us today. Stony roads can’t stop our marching. Chastening rods can’t bend our will. Weary feet won’t break our perseverance. Teary eyes won’t blind our dreams. Gloomy slander won’t shame into silence. We are God’s creation. We were not just born. We were created with love, purpose and power. It is because of God’s love that we exist. It is because of God’s purpose for our lives that we dream and hope. It is because of God’s power that we can overcome and succeed. As the psalmist said, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers them out of them all”. Neither our afflicters or the afflictions that they place upon are bigger than our God. Stand strong and live! Our ancestors overcame and so can we!