“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” (1 Peter 2:19)

The Divine voice of an unseen face has helped to guide many of my ancestors through the perilous oppressions they have faced.

If a man’s success is determined by the impediments he overcomes as opposed to what he achieves or possesses, many of those same ancestors are deserving of honorariums. My African-American ancestors have had to walk many roads over many centuries. I am fortunate to have had grand and great grandparents who shared their knowledge, prayed to God for wisdom, and displayed practical examples of character and discipline so that their descendants might gain understanding. These wonderful human beings shared stories of struggle admonished with values of spirituality.

In 1941, my father went off in the army to serve at the age of 19. On the day he left home, his family gathered around the front porch to say good-bye. During the five-mile walk to the train stop, he would look back ever so often towards home knowing that his family was still watching. He noticed at some point that all his siblings were still on the porch, but his mother had gone inside. His heart warmed, because he knew in his heart that she had gone to her prayer closet. He knew that his mother steadily made deposits into his prayer bank account. He knew that he could not allow it to get overdrawn - a strong prayer life began. Daddy boarded the train and rode from Gilmore, Arkansas to Little Rock, Arkansas. He sat in the “colored section” of the train with other black enlistees and civilian passengers. When they arrived at their final land destination (New York City), many families were there to say goodbye to their loved ones departing for Germany. As he saw these exchanges of love, he felt a sense of loneliness as he hung his head to cry for himself. Suddenly he heard a loud whistle and a band playing the lyrics of a song he’d never heard called “Don’t Cry Baby”. As he looked up, the largest ship he had ever seen came into focus. At this time a silent voice spoke to him and said “many who go shall not return, but you will be saved.” Daddy wiped his tears and went abroad. He and others faced much oppression as black soldiers (even overseas). Daddy endured the rude crude attitudes he encountered because he remembered the voice that had spoken to Him and knew that God was with Him always. After 3 years, 9 months, and 3 weeks, Daddy returned home safely. (In 1950 he preached his first sermon, “A short call for a long distance.”)

The Lesson: Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces faith, and faith in the end does not disappoint.

One should reflect on the successes of the past in order to have the confidence to persevere in faith of success for the future. These stories of the past influence visions of the future because they exemplify how actuality does NOT reign over possibility. In spite of their struggles, my ancestors maintained pleasant dispositions. Their successful triumph over obstacles (I can only imagine) gives me confidence to overcome the barriers that I encounter. Notwithstanding their situations, the faith in revelation that they held guided them through the cloudy days.

“Only when lions have historians will hunters cease being the heroes.”
Old African Proverb

Author's Bio: 

The above article is an excerpt from Linda Delaney's new book,
"Stewardship: A Matter of Principle". You may contact her at
lindadelaney@earthlink.net. She is a freelance writer who does skill
and principle based training for corporations and faith based
institutions from coast to coast.