Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Soapbox: The Blood and the Breath of America

Brandi Chambless

America can’t breathe right now. We can’t breathe.

Following the death of George Floyd the world has simply changed. As if walking around wearing a mask while shopping for toilet paper wasn’t enough to indicate there is a major shift going on, could we have possibly needed just one more reminder to expose what’s on the collective inside of us?

On the inside, there is racially charged outrage at every turn. There is every kind of outrage at every turn. There are COVID-19 conspiracy theorists taking swings at the mainstream media. There are those oppressed and those entitled. There is an election looming. Kanye West seeks a possible presidential bid, but nobody knows for sure if he is serious. CNN credited Nikki Haley for throwing her own name in the hat for VP again in 2020, with mysterious White House leaks to blame according to Never Trumpers. Meanwhile, Pence is still being applauded by Evangelicals. Biden is biding his time, hoping for a November he can remember. Long-time civil rights leader John Lewis makes his journey into eternity in a time when his entire life’s platform is finally on the world stage. This list of mayhem and bizarre news continues. Even the murder hornets have said “peace out.”

It was 1965 when then 25-year-old Lewis once led the crowds of Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, getting his skull cracked open with a billy club. Bloody Sunday they called it. Lewis lived a full life and died still fighting for social justice, yet our nation is still bloody. We are bloodier than we have ever been. Blood on the hands of corrupt policemen and blood on the hands of the general looting public is not the only massacre.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts turned his back on now disgruntled advocates for women who have labeled him as a disgrace for overstepping his reach into the will of the people of Louisiana. A fifth vote denying women the right to immediate hospital admission by an abortion provider following the injury and trauma of botched abortions, he has suddenly become the most popular liberal conservative justice to ever legislate from the bench according to pro-women and pro-life groups. Roberts’ earlier admission of getting it wrong on a similar 2016 Texas-based ruling was a sign that he would like to make things right when women were being left to bleed, but it was not to be. He didn’t want to say what has effectively become the dirty words that all lives matter, including that of a hemorrhaging mother, the great majority of abortion recipients being women of color.

These subjects are the talk of the town. The world is upside down irrespective of the aisle. It’s become the new how’s the weather, the state of this world only to be safely discussed among friends. American lives matter, but we can’t breathe. George Floyd we are still saying your name. It is a name that trumped even a global pandemic in making the world stop for just a moment. We can’t breathe. We all can’t breathe. Your life mattered for many reasons, but it is safer to say that you mattered because of your skin. These are the things we discuss and the things we can’t discuss. These are the things we need to discuss and the things we need to stop discussing. While we are deciding what to do, we mask up. Or we don’t. It depends on what the law or what the political persuasion of the day is.

Dear Reader, in light of the state of the upside down world news, I want to tell you about another name of another man that people have never stopped saying.

Our story begins with a woman. She was a woman considered so unclean by society and afflicted for life for she, too, was a hemorrhaging woman like some that have made the news recently.

Twelve years prior a little girl was born to a synagogue ruler named Jairus. Nobody knows really what her life was like other than a normal happy childhood, loved by her father who was prominent in the city gates. Around that same year the little girl was born, this woman in a nearby town developed an infirmity known publicly as an issue of blood. She was so shunned by society that her emotional state suffered much more than her physical state of being. So for the twelve years that this little girl lived her normal childhood as the daughter of the synagogue ruler, the bleeding woman was not welcomed into the synagogue. She was unwelcome. It was a state of being. Unwelcome.

One fateful day, the daughter of Jairus died at the age of twelve. A doctor named Luke later wrote that, when she was near death, Jairus went to find the man he knew of only as a healer to present his plea for help. On the way to see the dying girl, the healer encountered the unwelcome one—the bleeding woman. Though time was of the essence for the little girl, the healer stopped to heal the bleeding woman. When the healer asked who touched him, it became obvious that the bleeding woman was instantly healed. The friends of Jairus arrived just then and said, your daughter is dead. It was too late.

The rest of the story is about the healer visiting the now dead little twelve year old girl. The breath of God visited her lungs that day. She woke from the dead when she heard the words, “Talitha Koum!” Little girl, I say to you, get up!

Though the healer ordered the parents of the girl not to tell anyone what had happened, the name of Jesus has been on the lips of people of 2,000 years. It is a name that trumps every other name.

In the case of our nation gone awry, I say to you, “Talitha Koum, America!” It is time to rise up in faith that there is a Healer among us. The breath of God into injustice, the breath of God into opinions, and the breath of God into failed humanity are the only hope for America.

While it is a mystery why some suffer a lifetime of infirmity and others suffer just one unfortunate life-changing event, the one thing that is certain is that the divine breath and blood of God has the ability to heal instantly. The breath of God gives life. The breath of God gives understanding. The blood of Jesus is a peacemaker. The blood of Jesus can reconcile.

I believe George Floyd’s death will not be in vain, not because he was a martyr for the cause heard around the world. But because he was a human in need of a Savior. I believe his death, along with all of the other world-altering events of 2020, has exposed us to ourselves. We can’t do it without the Lord in these perilous times. In the midst of chaos, when we feel we can’t breathe, we can’t. But God can.

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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