Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Finding Hope in the Midst of the Pain - Lindquist

This morning, the headline on the Toronto Star's front page tells of the first local homicide of 2007. A woman named Jean Springer who was shot as she answered her front door on New Year's day. Jean, who according to the Star was known to her friends as "Auntie Jeannie," was in her 60's. She was preparing dinner for her family when she answered the door.

A man has been arrested. But a woman's life is gone, and a family is devastated.

According to the Star, "Toronto Mayor David Miller said the shooting 'is a very sobering reminder we simply have to get the guns off our streets.'"

But the most chilling part of the story is that Jean Springer was not a gang member or a nasty person, but a wife, mother, neighbour, and church leader. The Star quotes a neighbour as saying, "Jean realized the way to change people was through a relationship with God, which is why she chose the church as her arena to effect change in her community."

I hate to see 2007 start this way, but unfortunately, it's a continuation of the past year. Throughout 2006, as I read the many sad and frightening headlines announcing wars and rumours of wars, poverty, shootings, disease, and all the other terrible things people do to other people, I often felt overwhelmed by the inexplicable cruelty of people toward other people - even their own family members. I frequently was shocked by how little value some people place on life.

And yet I know that God sees everything. And I believe, as Jean did, that the best way to change our world is by helping people come to a genuine, growing relationship with God. That, and only that, will get the guns off the street.

And I know there is hope even in the midst of the pain.

This Christmas, a non-writer I'm mentoring gave me a set of sticky notes that have on them the following saying by Martin Luther: "If you want to change the world, pick up your pen."

That phrase reminded me of the words Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote back in 1864, in his carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

And in despair I bowed my head.
There is no peace on earth, I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.

What a privilege to be able to write words that could impact a complete stranger nearly 150 years after they were written! And the words are just as true today as they were in 1864. God still sees everything, and he will prevail. All is not as it seems.

And what a privilege we writers have today, to send out words God can use. We may never know who will read them and be influenced by them, but we can trust God to see that they accomplish the work he has for them.

And there is so much work still to be done, by everyone else who knows the living God. But if we each do our part, even in the midst of anger and hatred and destruction, we will see change for the better. And one day, the guns will be put down.

God's blessings on you for this new year. May you find the hope that God brings.

N. J.

Article in the Toronto Star.
Complete words to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" here.


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thank you, Nancy. What an encouragement to make time to write and market the message that God has entrusted to us of hope today.
Eleanor Shepherd

Deborah said...

What a rousing first post for us as we enter into 2007. Wonderful exhortation and reminder of the difference we can make with our words.

Thanks, Nancy, for starting the blog.


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