“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” — John 2:19, 21-22
On May 28, the world lost one of the most influential and prolific writers of this era, Ms. Maya Angelou. She wrote books that challenged existing cultural norms and mores and caused individuals to take a look at themselves and the world around them.
Although her books changed many mindsets of this era, it was her poetry that shook the foundations of our souls. I believe her most influential poem is “Still I Rise.” We all can relate to this poem, for it transcends socio-economic and cultural barriers and speaks to anyone who has been abused and mistreated.
It speaks to the mother left behind by her husband to raise kids. It speaks to the individual who is considered a social leper. It speaks to the person who was fired because they stood up for the right thing.
The poem speaks to all who have been victims of abuse that leaves one scared and haunted by feelings of loneliness and shame.
In the opening of “Still I Rise,” she states:
“You may write me down in history; with your bitter, twisted lies,
“You may tread me in the very dirt; but still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
She goes on to say in another verse:
“You may shoot me with your words; you may cut me with your eyes. You may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise.”
Have you ever been in that space in life, where people you thought were friends left you when you needed them the most? Have you ever felt the bitter sting of having been told a lie? Maybe you are the person who was bullied at school, on the job or in church, and those who did the bullying thought you were through.
Well, I have great news for you today: You don’t have to stay in the shape that you are in, because Jesus Christ reminds us — in John 2:19, 21-22 — that you can rise again. You can rise like Angelou so eloquently penned, “Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise! Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise!”
Yes, you can rise again out of the pain and shame of your past. Why? Because when you believe in Jesus, you will have eternal life. Remember Isaiah 54:17: “‘No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me,’ saith the Lord.”
Norwood is pastor of Hinesville Seven Day Adventist Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.