This last week has been horrifying for all of us, but uniquely so for mothers of Black boys. With each headline announcing the killing of another young Black male, my eyes have filled with hot tears and I have thought instantly of the Black boys who are dearly loved by my family and friends. I have thought of their moms and how each death must strike an unspeakable terror in their hearts. I have imagined how they must envision their sons grown and successful and their lives unjustly cut short.
I try to put myself in their shoes but am found wanting. I think of moms throughout history who had great reason to fear for their children—Jewish mothers during the Holocaust, Rwandan mothers during the genocide, Cambodian mothers under the Khmer Rouge, mothers in Bethlehem during the reign of King Herod. I wonder about moms today—Yazidi mothers, Nigerian mothers living near Boko Haram, mothers in China, Congo, Thailand, Bangladesh—all places with high risks for human trafficking.
Moms, in general, have much to fear. And moms of Black boys in the United States have had reasons to fear videotaped and viral in their faces for the last week and even year.
So what’s a mom to do? I know my friends with Black sons are hugging them tighter tonight. They are watching them sleep and whispering prayers over them. They are rehearsing with them (again) how to behave in order to avoid an unjustified attack. They are silently weeping and wiping tears before their boys ask them what’s wrong. They are pounding on the chests of their husbands and begging them for methods to ensure their sons won’t share in the fate of Alton Sterling or Philando Castile. They are hoping for government interventions to actually make a difference.
But I’m guessing these tender moms have a sense deep down that no amount of human effort will protect their boys. They have a gnawing sense that no legal entity or amount of activism or measure of good training will promise to spare their sons in the days ahead. While they will rightly exert themselves to bring about justice, they know—like moms in peril in previous generations—that human methods fail. Human laws, human demonstrations, human strength, human promises fail.
Whether we moms are White, Black, or Brown, our only real hope is in the one true God. May Psalm 62 be our banner, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (verses 1-2, 8).
We must remember that God says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He reminds us and our children to say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me” (Hebrews 13: 6)?
Jesus exhorts us, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Paul gives perspective when he says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
It is in Christ alone that we can boldly face the days ahead. It is through Jesus that our souls and the souls of our children will not be destroyed. It is when we die to ourselves and to this world and we are “hidden in Christ with God (that we can be sure that we) also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3,4).
To my friends with Black sons I have nothing of value to offer, except for my tears and lament and the truths of God found in scripture. I simply remind myself and my mom friends to take hold of these truths and make them our lifeblood. Let’s rehearse these truths to ourselves and then rehearse them to our young ones. Let’s commend the works of God to the next generation—breathe in His grace and then breathe it out, that our children may grab hold of Jesus too.
The hope offered to us through Jesus Christ is the hope of mothers across time and space. Human efforts and institutions will disappoint and fail. But our God is faithful. The faithfulness of the one true God is the fuel and strength for the mother of the Black boy in the United States, the imprisoned mother in China who cannot hold her child, the mother in war-torn Syria who cannot find her daughters, the missionary mother of a sick child in remote jungle village.
To Black, Brown, and White moms everywhere, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).