“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16
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How to Fuel Hope in the Darkness
Do you ever wish you could cocoon yourself from the world? Cozy up in your home with all the people you love and never come out? Do you ever feel the world is too dark and dangerous and unsafe?
I spent part of Saturday afternoon at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Although it was a happy occasion–my friend’s book The Survivor Tree was just published, and my mom and I attended her book signing–it was still a teary occasion, a haunting occasion. The Memorial is simultaneously an example of an act of unspeakable evil, a memorial to those who died, and a monument to those who valiantly answered the call for help. The Worst and the Best of mankind. It was a sobering experience, a teary experience. A meditative and spiritual experience.
As I was still in this ruminative state, word began to trickle in about the horror at the church in Texas, killings in California, and another murder quite near our home. So much tragedy. So much grief. So much evil.
My hyper-sensitive soul wants to block out all this ugly noise, to turn off the news, to mute the discussion. Oh, I don’t want to live in such an ugly place.
This World is Not My Home
As a Christian, I do look forward to a day and place where there will be no more tears, no more death or sadness as described in Revelation 21:4. In the face of destruction, it’s normal to long for the promised beauty and peace. But friends, we weren’t meant to just sit and bide our time.
“Let Your Light Shine”
The New Testament, particularly the parables of Jesus, is full of admonitions to work, occupy, do good, to let our light shine. We’re called not to hover in a corner, afraid of the darkness, but to go shine light.
Mr. Fred Rogers–yes, that Mr. Rogers–told the story of his mother’s calming words to him in scary times.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
I don’t know about you, but that thought has brought me immeasurable comfort and hope.
We can fear the darkness, hide from the darkness, curse the darkness. However, that doesn’t do anything but lead us into a state of fearful…darkness. It doesn’t give us hope, and it surely gives no hope to anyone else. We can focus on the darkness, or we can look for the helpers.
Watching people run into danger. It astonishes me. It inspires me. It gives me hope. Look around you at every tragedy, every disaster, every evil. You will find people running into the danger in order to help others. Focus on the helpers.
Once we focus on the helpers, we’re inspired to see how we can help. What can I do to improve this situation? And if I can’t help over there in that spot, then what can I do right here where I am? How can I be a helper? How can I shine light into this darkness? How can I be a beacon of hope?
I can’t fight a fire, but I can drop off water bottles or treats at the fire station.
I can’t sew up a wound, but I can offer support to a grieving person.
I can’t stop devastation, but I can go help clean up after a tornado, or offer my home to a hurricane refugee.
I can’t prevent people from making wicked choices, but I can take my turn to serve on a jury.
It’s true I can’t do so many things, but there are innumerable things I can do.
I can invite lonely people into my home.
I can offer a smile and a kind word to someone who’s sad.
I can serve meals at a food kitchen or the Ronald McDonald House.
I can donate money or goods to the Homeless Shelter.
I can foster a child or offer physical and emotional support to a foster family.
I can volunteer at Habitat for Humanity or donate books to an under-served school or tutor a child.
I think it’s time to stop focusing on the evil and to find a way to be a helper.
Let’s go shine.