Trails of Tears
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William (Bill) Paris, who is a gifted friend of the Native American people, writes thoughtfully and candidly today about the suffering of the Cherokee people, their Trail of Tears, and how that so intimately reflects Christ’s suffering for us. Bill’s heart for the Native American people is precious, and is a witness of the work God is doing among them today to achieve His purposes in the earth. Please welcome him with me as you read this heartfelt post.
Trails of Tears
Jesus carried His own cross to a hill called the Place of the Skull,”(John 19:17, NLV).¹
Water from the Aquarium gently weeps down the 7 large copper panels, one for each Cherokee clan. The combined waters then run over a series of steps down to the site of Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This interactive waterfall named “The Passage” is one of the sites where the Cherokee people departed for their journey on the Trail of Tears. Walking barefoot thoughtfully down the water-covered steps can cause a person to shed tears and feel deep empathy with the First Nations people of this land about the injustices they have endured.
Ross’s Landing was owned by John Ross, Cherokee Principal Chief. He cared for his people and fought hard in the U.S. courts to overturn the 1830 Indian Removal Act. The use of his trading post and river ferry location for their removal caused even more indignation, pain, and tears. After the legal battles were over he kept his resolve to help his people, and went with them to their new land in what is now Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Many of the Cherokee who were forced from their lands were Christians. They knew that Jesus, the One who resolved to care for all people, also suffered great injustice, indignation, and pain. They knew about Jesus being forced to walk on a “trail of tears” to the place where He would die for the sins of all people. They recalled Jesus speaking words of comfort to the people weeping for Him along that route despite His discomfort and pain. This gave the Cherokee great comfort about their past, and hope for their future.
As these Christian Cherokee people walked down the hill to the river, they remembered that Jesus once walked up a hill where a river of His holy blood soon covered the ground; a river that became the source of forgiveness and life. And they remembered the tears of joy from the first Christians when Jesus rose from the dead! The Cherokee kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, the One who walked before them (see Hebrews 12:2-3). They knew that because Jesus defeated sin, death, and the enemy of their souls, He was trustworthy. Jesus’ victory made Him their Grand Chief. They also knew that He would be with them in their new homeland, both here on earth and one day in Heaven.
My friends, let us always remember that Jesus has gone before us on a “trail of tears” and won the victory. May this truth give us comfort and hope when we endure pain in our lives that causes us to shed tears. May we then remember to share this same comfort and hope with others who are on their own “trail of tears.” Like John Ross and Jesus, let us resolve to never stop helping those around us look to Jesus for all their needs.
We pray: Father God, thank You for sending Jesus on a “trail of tears” to pay the penalty for our rebellion toward You. Thank You that He defeated the powers of sin, death, and the enemy of our souls with His death and resurrection. Help us to show Your love and comfort to others as they walk on their “trail of tears”. In the name of Jesus, the Name Above All names, amen and amen.
© William Paris | Printed with permission. | All rights reserved.
¹ Holy Bible: New Living Translation – © Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL — 1996 Edition
About the Author
Bill Paris has been a teacher and care-giver for 40 years. He is now serving as a missionary at the BellHOP Café and as a friend of the First Nation people in North America. His gifts of prayer, writing, music, and service continue to grow so that he is more fully equipped to help those God sends across his path.
He can be reached on Facebook.