Affirm: The Lowly Boast

This past weekend I lost four family members—none to COVID but simply age and health issues. At one of the three funerals I attended, God spoke to me through a sister, a woman I grew up with. She told me she has been richly blessed because God has brought her through many things in the past year. She blessed me with her story.

This woman who self-identifies as blessed told me that her husband left her, she lost her job, and she lived for months in her storage shed. When she could no longer pay for the storage unit, a friend let her stay with her a few nights until she got into a local group home.

God has been good to her, she told me. God has seen her through. She is blessed.

My encounter with this woman’s story shocked me out of the protective shell I’ve been cowering in. These past few months I have found it hard to write. I haven’t sent out blog posts. I haven’t written articles. I struggle to be positive and hopeful in the midst of the pandemic and racial tension. In my isolation and lack of travel, I’ve missed hanging out with other women across the country. It’s been a bummer, and I thought I had it bad.

My conversation with this woman opened my eyes to blessing. To help the organization stay afloat, I cut my hours—but I did not lose my job. I have a home. My family has been okay financially through the pandemic. Even as we lost three of our matriarchs, I have welcomed three grandbabies since March. God has been good to me.

We followers of Jesus are told that, somehow, all of this amounts to joy:

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away” (James 1:2-4, 9-11).

As I try now to dwell on the positives—as evasive as they may be—I consider this: we as a people are more aware. Instead of being too busy to simply be with one another, we are longing to be in the presence of others. Instead of ignoring those in need, we are confronted with the scale of it. We can no longer ignore the unemployed; we and those we love are increasingly among their ranks. The rich are being brought low.

No matter how these months have treated us, let’s remember the many families who have lost their homes or are unable to pay utility bills. Remember communities of color battling the virus physically and economically. Remember women enduring domestic violence and seniors unable to hug their loved ones. Remember those in poverty whose state of well-being goes from bad to worse. Let us pray that those who suffer will be raised up so that they might boast. 

I thank God for my conversation last weekend with the women who unknowingly humbled me, reminding me that I am rich, and I must boast when I am brought low. When I am low, I must boast when I am raised up. As hard as this pandemic and racially divisive time in our history, I am blessed. I will praise God.