It Sure Doesn’t Seem Like it Sometimes

Community Foundation Higher Ground 0 Comments

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who dwell therein. For He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. — Psalms 24:1-2

The 24th hymn of David captures the sovereignty of God over all creation. Some people believe God often brings order and stability out of the chaos surrounding us. We sing the popular religious spiritual song that declares a kindred message, He’s got the Whole World in His Hands.

Best-selling author Robert Fulghum relates the experience of a frustrated seminarian, leading worship in a care facility for friends in need of special attention. Robert struggles to say something helpful, relevant and comforting during these brief worship encounters.

On one occasion, he held a globe in one hand and read Psalm 24. He asked the residents to join him in singing, He’s got the Whole World in His Hands. Almost immediately, an older gentleman in the back of the chapel raised his hand and replied, “Sometimes it sure doesn’t seem like it.” The gentleman is sadly and painfully correct.

More than 200 teenage school girls were recently abducted from their school by a group of militant Nigerian Islamists, the Boko Haram. The majority of these girls, ages 16-18, were Christians, and some were Muslims. A leader of the insurrection declared the girls would be sold as slaves, unless certain political demands were met — including the release of release of prisoners captured by the government. In 2014 alone, more than 1500 Nigerians have been murdered during the insurrection. The girls were only seeking a basic secondary education.

Massive incarceration in our nation is unsustainable, morally and financially. Last year a prisoner who had spent five-and-a-half of his six-year sentence in solitary confinement, went to the home of a chief corrections officer and killed him. The corrections chief was an advocate for prison reform (specifically for reducing the use of solitary confinement) but this prisoner did not know it.

Sometimes it sure doesn’t seem like He’s got the Whole World in His Hands.

Americans can’t really point our fingers at other nations. Serious inequities and injustices abound in our nation as well. What can we do to improve this situation? For starters, we need to change our individual indifferences to the experience of prisoners, as well as supporting efforts to dismantle mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses (a leading cause of incarceration).

More than 2.2 million prisoners currently fill our system. One out of every 143 Americans is serving a sentence — seven times the rate in Europe. One in five of our prisoners are serving a sentence of 25 years or more. African American males comprise six percent of the U.S. population, but make up 40 percent of prisoners. On average, black men receive longer prison sentences than their white counterparts.

Sometimes it sure doesn’t seem like He’s got the Whole World in His Hands.

Let’s go back to the imprisoned teenagers in Nigeria. They are hungry for learning. Let’s see to it that they are released to pursue it.

What role model can they have to achieve their legitimate goals and dreams? There are many sisters who inspire us, but during this time, we remember our own Dr. Maya Angelou. She was a poet, an author, a counselor, an inspirer, and a woman of deep faith. She was courageous, and encouraged all she met to reach for the stars, while keeping our feet on the ground.

She was no college graduate, but possessed gifted divine wisdom that she imparted to all of us: presidents and prime ministers, artists and musicians, the list goes on and on. I would not be surprised to discover that among those young Nigerian women, there is another Maya Angelou brooding.

Yes, sometimes it seems like God doesn’t have He’s got the Whole World in His Hands, but I firmly believe that he does. The world just has its ups and downs, twists and turns.

I read this little statement somewhere: Life is a trip that you don’t pack a bag for. Get moving. God’s got your back.

Rev. Joseph L. Roberts, Jr.