The world seems to be in more turmoil than usual lately. Perhaps it's the parade of hurricanes skipping across the Atlantic and monsoons flooding Asia while wild fires scorch America's west. Then there's North Korea's rocket man amping up nuclear tensions while protesters shake up American cities and towns.
Do you ever feel hopeless when you follow the news? That's when it's time to do something.
As we walked home from church today through a shady neighborhood on Chicago's northwest side, my wife, Ellen, spotted two twenty-something women cleaning up the sidewalk across the street. Not particularly unusual, except they were working in front of two different homes. A little young to be home owners and too old to be doing the lawn for mom or dad. When we turned the corner and passed a young man carrying jugs of orange juice, we discovered another pair of young women picking up litter.
"Big party last night?" Ellen asked.
"Nope!" the friendly, bespeckled blonde replied. "We're from St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Logan Square and this is our service Sunday."
What followed was a chat about our churches and the captivating sermon we just experienced. The topic was forgiveness, and our pastor shared the story of a woman who confessed her anguish and inability to forgive the brother who had sexually abused her. At the time he heard her confession, he was a very young priest. "You must forgive him," Fr. Sam advised. "I'm not telling you to accept what he did to you, but you have to forgive him. The longer you hold onto this the more pain it will cause you."
A few months later the woman returned to see Fr. Sam again and she thanked him for his tough love in the confessional. It had helped her.
It's hard to imagine what the young victim felt but she told our pastor, "Whenever I see him, I want to kill him." She was cursed by her brother's evil, yet it was up to her to make the changes that would allow her to grow and improve her life. Her world was eviscerated but she had to summon the courage to begin the healing. All things are possible with God.
As we endure the news each day, it's essential that we remember two things:
1. There is always so much to be grateful for.
2. Change is not a spectator sport -- whether it's required in your neighborhood, the global community or our hearts.