About thirty-one years ago, I experienced something that changed me. It was homecoming night and a group of us had gone out to dinner together to celebrate. Afterward, we all headed to the dance. Everything was going great until we reached the school. When we arrived at the dance, there were murmurs rippling through the crowd. One of our classmates had been killed in a car accident earlier that afternoon. She was a girl whom everyone knew and loved. She had been in my journalism class and I’d worked with her on several stories. She was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet and now, without warning or explanation, she was gone. It made no sense. And we had no say. It was just goodbye.
We shared that experience collectively, as a school. As a community. But we endured the grief that it created quite individually. And while the grief hit differently for some than it did for others, it still hit quite pervasively and quite relentlessly. For some, this was the first person they’d ever lost. For others, she was another in a long line of losses. For some, this was a close friend. For others, she had been only an acquaintance, but still a bright spot in what could sometimes be a dark place. She was somebody’s daughter. Somebody’s best friend. Somebody’s crush. Somebody’s ideal. She was sixteen years old. Her death left a hole in the lives of many. But many would never know this.
People lose loved ones every day. Their losses are no less hurtful simply because we aren’t directly involved in them. Yet, we may encounter those who are hurting at any point while on our daily journey. We may run into these individuals and never think twice about why they look so somber or why they might be angry. We just write it off as them being rude or stupid or just another person with a bad attitude. But someone, somewhere is grieving the loss of someone they loved dearly, even if that someone was never seen or known by us. Even if their death had nothing to do with us. It is inevitable that we will be touched by the ripple effect of the loss in that person’s life. In this, I think we have great opportunity. Since we, as a nation, seem to have lost our ability to be compassionate; these times when someone, somewhere, is grieving should become our call to action. These instances, when we become aware of them, should become a means of exercising our ability to care for and pray for our fellow man. But we’re going to have to dig a little deeper.
Scrolling through our feeds each day, we stumble upon arguments, outcries, or just plain statements of frustration. We can take these as opportunities to step in and argue back or we could do something radically different; we could stop and take a breath, show some compassion, and pray for that person. Jesus calls us to show love for our fellow human being. The love that they speak of in the Bible is this; to love one another as the Father loves us. I can tell you that I haven’t been doing a very good job of this these days. In fact, I’ve been quick to argue and defend my views rather than looking for the reasons why someone might be slinging his or her arrows in my general direction. How hard can it be to stop and think for a moment about why someone may lunge at us and tell us how wrong we are to hold the beliefs we hold? Have we forgotten that God calls us to be good to one another and to help the broken to heal? Have I forgotten?
We live in an era of division and although we all have our opinions about who caused it and who perpetuates it; the truth is this: the devil is hard at work trying to keep ALL of God’s people from caring for one another. It is the devil’s wish that we will all stay at each other’s throats and keep each other frustrated, bitter, and hurt for as long as we possibly can. He hates it when we start to look around with compassion. And he hates it even more when we start to take action on those feelings of compassion. So, I challenge you. Today, let’s set aside the arguments. Today, let’s reach across the divide to the person who has been a steady source of stress for us. Today, let’s remember that we are human beings and that we are all God’s children and as such, we are a part of the most wonderful thing; God’s kingdom. If we work together to be positive and we stop asking each other for thesis-level explanations that we have good reason to question the state of this world, then we might just find that we really have more in common than we would readily acknowledge. We are ALL His children. We are ALL part of God’s plan. And He wants ALL of us to love Him and to love each other. Without qualification. Without explanation. Without conditions.
We are ALL hurting in one way or another. We are ALL dealing with things we don’t or can’t or won’t understand. We are ALL seeking comfort and reassurance that life will one day be back to some kind of normal. None of this has been easy. So, let’s stop making it harder for each other. Let’s be civil. Let’s reach back into our memory banks and see if we can remember how to truly care for one another.
With that in mind, how can I pray for you today?