The Ashes of the Phoenix
We get and receive complements all the time in life, some sincere, many insincere. But can you think of the best complement you've ever been given? Out of everything from everybody does one stand out as 'the best'?
I can. While there are a handful of complements that I have been honored over the years to receive I think one bestowed upon me freshman year in college squeaks by as the best.
I was sitting in my buddy Adam's room in winter of freshman year (mine not his). It has been a rough month. I was dealing with a lot of personal stuff, very much depressed and struggling deeply with some relationships...but so were a lot of my friends and I was doing my best to comfort and help them, non-christians all, as they struggled with their own messes. I don't remember specifically what sparked the conversation that night but he looked at me and said: "I know your God exists because despite everything you still have such hope, and I know that comes from something greater". It goes right along with a handmade poster I had hanging in my locker in high school "It is fruitless for a mirror to have 'self esteem', 'self worth', or pride. Reflect the LORD!"
In what has certainly been one of my lowest points, personally, I succeeded in something that all Christians struggle with for their whole life (and certainly I still do). I reflected the hope of Christ and love of God so brightly my non-christian friend was able to see God through me. What Christian could possibly want for more? To die to ourselves so that Christ shines through? Almost 10 years later and I still can't come up with a better wish, a more perfect goal, a more noble hope.
I have long said that Christians and non-christians alike get depressed. The difference is Christians have HOPE. It means a lot, the difference between hope and hopeless, especially in the worst of situations.
So back to my revelation. I, and the blog author Jim, were in a back-and-forth discussion with a regular tagged 'girlevolving' about abortion. Specifically how abortion is not made morally right just because someone's situation is bad or because the babe will be poor, beset by hardships, or disabled. And something occured to me.
Christians look at any situation, regardless of how bad, and see the hope held therewithin. We know that every situation can be used for good, every heartache a path to joy, every empty wallet a start to a full heart. History teaches us the undeniable resilance of the human spirit. The greatest rise from the worst of situations, the strongest unfold from the weakest.
Non-christians look at a poor mother, an abuse victim, a woman struggling to make ends meet and can only see how hopeless it is. Why bring a child into that? Do not fault, they tell us, the murder of a babe in womb to save it from a lifetime of suffering; it's a kindness, a curtesy, a heartwrenching decision that the woman believes is 'best' for herself, her existing children or family, perhaps even the soon to be dead child itself. And we look at that and marvel at how they can view it that way, horrified at the wanton destruction of so much potential! A child could be exactly the thing that turns a delinquent teenager into a responsible adult, that convinces the abuser they are wrong, or finally gets the abused to leave. A baby could lead to a new friend, who leads to a job opening and financial security, or it could repair a fractured family as the mother is forced to accept help from relatives. That disabled babe might become a world class scholar, or painter, or simply find happiness and acceptance in a commited loved one. How can they not see that they are trying to 'fix' a temporary problem with a permanent and horrific 'solution'. Abortion not only doesn't address the problem, it takes away the solution that can be found in new life!
Somewhere along the way they forgot, or maybe they never knew, that humanity has survived every horror, every holocust, every depression, and has risen to greatness. Not by dying, but by living! Somehow they can't see that humanities ability to overcome and rise above puts the phoenix to shame! Like that mythical bird humans rise back up from the ashes of distruction, but it is not simply to our old selves we arise but to a greater self. From the desolation of despair do humans create the finest riches. It is the soul scarred by the worst that life has to offer that has the most capacity to empathize and help others, and the most capacity to revel in the simple most universal joys of life.
We see hope.
They see hopelessness.
Which is why, I realized suddenly, that all the biology, science, statistics, and facts so rarely make a difference. You can not make the hopeless understand hope, and you can not take hope away from those who have it.
But you can try to give it; it can not be forced, only offered, only accepted. And the best way to do that is to introduce them to the Author of hope. He can not be forced upon anyone either, but if they accept then hope springs eternal. Hope allows even the weakest, basest of humans in the worst situation to pick his head up and exclaim "it is well with my soul!"