Beauty From Ashes

When our fallen world falls on us, where do we find hope? We find hope’s source in the narratives of The Heroes of Black Church History.

It’s Possible to Hope

Captured Africans needed Divine consolation teaching that it’s possible to hope becauseGod is good. So they reminded each other that God weaves good for them even from human evil against them. 

Such faith, as Quobna Cugoano believed (for the rest of his story Does God Hear Our Cries?) , requires spiritual eyes like those of Joseph (Genesis 50:20). 

“I may say with Joseph, as he did with respect to the evil intention of his brethren, when they sold him into Egypt, that whatever evil intentions and bad motives those insidious robbers had in carrying me away from my native country and friends, I trust, was what the Lord intended for my good.” 

Cugoano makes the sweeping affirmation that, even in the face of human evil, God is friendly and benevolent, able and willing to turn into good ends whatever may occur. It is the belief that God squeezes from evil itself a literal blessing. 

We can journey with our spiritual friends to the God of Joseph and Cugoano who Master-crafts every event of their lives to reveal his glory and bring them good. We can interact with them about the God who fashions for them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3).  

Looking at Life with Spiritual Eyes

Olaudah Equiano (for the rest of his story read From Victim to Victors) taught his readers a similar lesson when he ended his narrative with these closing words of counsel. 

“I early accustomed my self to look at the hand of God in the minutest occurrence, and to learn from it a lesson of morality and religion; and in this light every circumstance I have related was to me of importance. After all, what makes any event important, unless by it’s observation we become better and wiser, and learn ‘to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God!’” 

Like Equiano, we practice spiritual friendship by reminding one another that God uses unjust suffering to make us more just, unloving treatment to make us more loving, and arrogant abusers to make us more humble. Like Equiano, we exercise spiritual discipline by orienting ourselves to detect God’s hand in every circumstance—no matter how seemingly minute. 

Join the Conversation 

How could the truth that “God is good even when life is bad” impact your life and ministry? How could “looking at life with spiritual eyes” impact your life and ministry? 

Note: This series for Black History Month is excerpted from Beyond the Suffering:Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care. To learn more and to read a sample chapter visit Beyond the Suffering.

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