Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In the Midst of Tragedy There is Always Light

“And when something awful happens, the goodness stands out even more ...”
― Banana Yoshimoto

On the afternoon of Monday, April 16, 2013, two explosions ripped through the crowd waiting near the finish line at the Boston Marathon.  176 people were injured, 17 of those critically injured and three people were killed.  It's early yet, so no one has taken "credit" for the bombing and the public is not yet aware who the real suspects are.

Tragedy has once again struck our nation.

Over the past year or so, I have avoided bad news as much as possible.  I am, for the most part, uninformed about the tragedies that take place on a daily basis in the United States and around the world.  Before I set out to be intentionally ignorant about the bad things that happen, I would cry over the news.  I would read about the injustices, the humiliations and the evil and I would weep and feel the burden of this knowledge settle into my very bones.   

Today, I choose to look at the good.   I no longer listen to popular radio stations in the car.  Instead, I tune the dial to K-LOVE.  They are a Christian network of radio stations who tout themselves as "positive, encouraging K-LOVE."  They highlight positive news stories and encourage and pray for their listeners in between song lists of current Christian music artists.  I am soaking up these positive messages like a man in the midst of a drought. 

I have not looked at the images of the tragedy in Boston just as I don't follow the trial of the late-term abortion doctor that didn't quite make national headlines.  I see glimpses of these stories and I turn away.  We all are aching for the injured and for the families of the deceased.  But I need to hear the stories of the people who are turning tragedy into blessings.  They are there.  And they are plentiful.

  • 52-year-old Carlos Arredondo, who was at the finish line with his wife handing out US Flags to runners with Run for the Fallen, didn't run away.  He ran to HELP.  He helped control the bleeding of a bystander who lost both of his legs. 
  • Army veteran Bruce Mendelsohn was celebrating with his brother who had run the race.  The explosion knocked him off his seat a couple of blocks away and he ran to the scene to provide what assistance he could.
  • Only a few hours after the explosion, residents of Boston began offering couches, meals and spare bedrooms to anyone who needed assistance in the aftermath of the tragedy.
  • Marathoners tore off their shirts to use them as tourniquets.
  • Former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi carried an injured woman to safety in his arms.
  • Businesses in the area opened their doors to people as places of refuge from the chaos with offers of phone charging and meals on a "pay if you can" basis.
I am sure there are many, many more stories of hope, heroes and encouragement that we will learn about in the coming days.  There is tragedy, yes.  We are surrounded by tragedy each and every day.  Our nation suffers from poverty, joblessness, homelessness and bigotry.  Around the world, people are slaughtered for nothing more than their religious convictions or sexual orientation.  But from out of the tragedy, there is always, always hope.  There are people who emerge from the tragedies of this bedraggled, often hopeless, world as shining beacons.

Let's focus on the positive. Let us focus on what is good in humanity.  You often find those things that you seek.  We are all joining together as a nation to pray for comfort and peace for those affected by this tragedy.  But I ask that we not forget the ongoing tragedies that people in our nation and around the world face every single day.  Pray for the little girl who suffers from abuse at the hands of her father.  Pray for the elderly woman who can't afford her medication.  Pray for the families who need jobs to pay for food for their children. And pray for the people who live in nations where their very survival from day to day is questionable.   

We are surrounded by tragedy.  But we are filled with hope.  Look for the stories of the everyday heroes in Boston and in your hometown.  Offer a smile to a stranger.  Offer a meal to a friend.  Life is short and we only get this one opportunity to make a difference in our world.  Each of us can shine a light of hope in the midst of life's tragedies.

John 16:33 

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

What are your stories of hope?

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