Tears formed in my eyes as I read my friend's text. A smile crept across my face. Seven simple words that struck me with full force: "The world needs more people like you." A summer experience in Alaska had opened his life to Grace and he told me he saw it in me. I had to shake my head at the irony - that a life once darkened by selfishness and pain could now hold the Light for another. I replied to his text: "…I've had some very dark days in my life, but He has brought me to this time and place for a reason. All the glory is His."
Over the last several days since I received my friend's text, I have been reflecting on his statement. What is it that this world needs? It certainly doesn't need more people ignoring the wounded among us and pretending to be like those in the Samaritan parable Jesus told who "pass by on the other side" while one struggles to survive. It doesn't need more people telling those who hurt that there is no hope, that a soul dead in its own darkness cannot have renewal and be redeemed. It doesn't need more people consumed by selfishness and bitterness, only thinking of how to get even and make things better for themselves and worse for everyone else. It doesn't need more people who run their lives on hatred, putting others down in order to elevate themselves because they think certain others are inferior.
Situations like the recent shooting in Charleston, South Carolina prove that we humans can wound each other in body and soul in ways that are horrific. And often, it's when we are the hurting ourselves. Our pain leaks out to those around us and adds to their misery, too. We live in a fallen and broken world. We see evidence of this fact daily. And yet, there can be glimmers of light. Signs that hope still exists in the midst of great tragedy. Little indications that God is still doing what He does best and resurrecting life from despair.
At one time, all I saw was the darkness. I felt and witnessed no light…or so I thought. Consumed by my own sadness and pain, I couldn't feel the pain of others very well. Life had no future. I was lost with no sense of purpose or hope. How desperate and heavy were those days! I remember them well…and I do not want to forget them because they are the evidence of a redemption story that God has been writing on the walls of my heart for the last several years.
Many people may look at my life and think they see the model Christian. I am well aware of the fact that I stumble constantly. I have my struggles as much as anyone. More often than not, I find that the message of hope that I give to others is one that I must preach to myself. Otherwise I fail in my own journey toward Grace. Perhaps what this world needs are people whose lives are open to the One Who makes all things new. Maybe what it needs are individuals who aren't afraid of their own weakness, who are forever in a state of neediness and who realize that their darkest days are merely a passage into a place of hope. That suffering isn't something to run from but is a God-given blessing in disguise without which we wouldn't learn what grace really means. If people embraced their woundedness and used it in service to those around them, just maybe this world would change for the better. If people saw others as creations of God with their own light and beauty to offer the world, perhaps we might begin to view one another as our Maker views us. Truly, one cannot tread a painful path and not be changed. For the better or the worse depends on their choice but the affect is still there. How powerful though when a person decides to turn their pain into blessing, to allow the God who loves them to make something beautiful out of what is broken.
We can't fix the sorrow in this world. But we can make the choice to lessen it to the best of our ability. This world needs hope. This world needs light - His light! This world needs grace, and those who are aware of this and accept this need as their mission will find that God works wonders through their submitted lives. And they just might see the Light grow as a result of their humble work.