Shine On

When the clouds come, shine on.

When the rain falls, shine on.

When life brings you to your knees, shine on.

I understand there is a point to tragedy, some greater plan, but for the life of me I can’t fathom or understand what it is. I often question this… purpose. What is the purpose? What is the purpose of this event? What is the purpose of this tragedy? What is the purpose of this pain?

The past few weeks have been fraught with tragedy for so many people. Some lost all of their material belongings to flood waters in Texas. They must now start over from scratch. Literally escaping with only the clothes on their backs. I can’t fathom the reason why.

A dear lady was stabbed by a man who she had tried to help in the past. Being a kind-hearted servant has left her fighting for her life. I can’t fathom the reason why.

Death has knocked on my door and taken a beloved away. Grief swallows you whole. I can’t fathom the reason why.

Babies in pediatric wards fighting for their little lives. Moms who just gave birth a few days before leaving hospitals with empty arms. I can’t fathom the reason why.

The question “why” is often the only thing that remains. And, the only thing that goes unanswered. We don’t know the why. And, it just doesn’t make any sense.

In the midst of the news stories covering the tragic events of the past few weeks, in the midst of the preacher’s prayer on Sunday, in the midst of a sister’s lamented cry, I feel the words…. hope, resilience, survival. I grasp at them like oxygen. My hands reaching out, grabbing, trying desperately to catch the invisible.

Where does it come from? This hope, this resilience? How is it that we can repeatedly pick ourselves up and continue on? We know not what tomorrow brings and have no idea how we are going to get through today, yet somehow we manage to do just that. We continue on. We strive. We push through. We endure. We persevere. But, why?

We have no choice. The last few weeks are grave reminders that we, we simple humans, little in the grand design, we are not in control. Visitors, we are. Visitors in this world. Visitors in this life. We persevere because we live. Because we have no choice.

You’ve heard it said that time heals all wounds, but I’d argue that the wounds never actually heal. As time passes you learn to absorb the pain. The reality doesn’t diminish. The event doesn’t disappear. You can’t un-see things, tragedies. You can’t un-feel the emotions. It changes you.

Yesterday, I was visiting with a lady who is facing a double mastectomy due to her battle with breast cancer. I complimented her on her smile. How she shows up everyday and has such a positive attitude. Her response to me was; “It is just something I have to go through. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.” In that moment, she taught me the true essence of strength. Shine on.

I watched the news story of the black man, a pastor, swimming in the flood waters in Texas. He was exhausted. His body weary, yet it didn’t stop him. He was driven from the inside. Relentless, he dove down into the waters. His mission simple: save others. He refused to stop until he had checked every car within his viewing range to ensure no one was in the submerged vehicles. He, himself, suffering one of the greatest natural disasters to hit the States, and there he was…. His determination, his love for others, his need to help… It shone like a beacon in the murky waters. In that moment, he taught me hope. Shine on.

Then, I watched the news story of the woman, a single mom with four kids. Her home swallowed by the flood waters. Everything gone. Clothes, car, children’s toys, her job.… Everything gone. She had no idea where she and her children would be sleeping that night. With tears in her eyes she said; “My children are safe. We’re going to be okay.” She knew the importance of life, of family. She knew their innocent eyes were watching her. How she responded in that moment will teach them how to respond in the future. In that moment, she taught me love. Shine on.

We manage because we have to. We persevere because we have to. We simply have no choice. In the midst of our toughest battles… In the midst of our worst personal tragedies… when the darkness looms over us… we may be blind to it ourselves, but others see it. Others recognize it. This little light of will shines from within us. The will to survive. The will to overcome. I see it in you. In your darkness. In your pain. In your fears. I see it in you. Shine on.

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