I think most of us would agree that the world is a bleak place at this moment in time. Everywhere you look there is incredible depravity. One race fighting against another. Truth losing out to lies. Power corrupting. The weak being trampled, taken advantage of and abused. It is sickening and if I focus on any of it for too long, I can easily become disillusioned, depressed, defeated or some combination of the above. It isn’t good.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of seeing the opposite spirit at work in several people. First, I met with a cousin of mine for lunch, with the simple intention of getting caught up on her life (which, in reality was FAR from simple- an awesome story, but not mine to tell). After hearing her incredible story, she asked me, “How are you doing?” I broke. I didn’t expect to talk about myself– not because my cousin is self-centered, quite the opposite. I simply was so focused on my excitement for her, that I never thought about the conversation going anywhere else. She lovingly entered into my situation and spoke life to me. She encouraged me. She challenged me. And then she prayed over me. It was so sweet and such an unexpected blessing. It was a time filled with so much beauty, hope and expectation.
Then, last night my husband and I had one of our favorite families over for dinner. These people are amazing. Look up “faith,” “humility,” “selflessness” — or any of about a dozen other words in the dictionary and I guarantee you’d find a picture of this family. I have had the privilege of knowing them all my life and these people are the real deal. The father was an incredibly successful PA in the states, with nothing but a bright future on the horizon. But after a trip to Africa, he allowed his life to be turned upside down. With his family in agreement and clear direction from God, they moved to Tanzania to start a medical clinic in an area where there was zero access to modern medicine or practices. They gave up more than I will ever know or understand, but you would never get that impression from them. I don’t mean they’d gloss over the trials they faced, but they would have so many incredible stories of what they had experienced that if they got around to telling you about a struggle, it would merely be a footnote. These people radiate unearthly love and I was so blessed to spend time with them.
This morning, I turned on one of my favorite shows on Netflix: “Call the Midwife.” The show takes place in a very poor part of England during the 1950s and is based on the memoir of a midwife. But contrary to the tile, the show is not all about labor and delivery. During this time, midwives were called on for so much more, as there was very little medical care available. In this episode, there was a woman named Mrs. Jenkins who seemed senile and looked completely decrepit; she was in desperate need of help. The midwives arranged to get Mrs. Jenkins social services, but she was so scarred by her past that she refused help (she punched a nun in the face when the nun tried to take her pulse!).
It turned out that she had lived in a workhouse. *Workhouses were mean, ugly places. They were a place to break the human spirit. Mrs. Jenkins was separated from her children, never to know what happened to them, left to believe the worst. Once the workhouse was closed, she was sent out onto the streets.
A midwife named Jenny was assigned to look in on Mrs. Jenkins and give her medical care. Mrs. Jenkins was covered in bugs, had mold on her clothes, matted hair and boots that were so worn that her skin and nails had literally grown attached to them. This was a case where defiant love was the only answer. Jenny refused to give up on Mrs. Jenkins, even when Mrs. Jenkins physically hurt her. Jenny helped bathe her, clothe her and gave her medical attention. But Jenny didn’t just tend to her physical needs; she also sought to bring much needed peace to Mrs. Jenkins’ broken heart. Again, I was struck by the beauty of it all.
These people demonstrated something to me that I so desperately needed to see- the human spirit as it was meant to be. Yes, it is true that there is evil and malice in the world but the human spirit was fashioned in God’s image. God is not evil, He does not have ill-intent. He is patient, compassionate, loving. He is faithful, in Him there is no lie. He is beauty.
When the human spirit is at it’s best, it will closely resemble these characteristics. I saw this so clearly that the reality of it cannot be denied.
While we must continue to fight against the corruption that surrounds us, I encourage you to not let your spirit be crushed. It is so easy to be overcome by the tragedy of it all and become jaded with this world. Trust me, I fight with it. I don’t always win but the days that are the most beautiful are the one’s in which I am defiantly loving and defiantly hopeful (**a term I heard from another amazing individual I have the privilege of knowing).
Defiant love, defiant hope. It sounds like just what this world needs right now.
*To learn more about workhouses:
**To learn more about the ministry my friend started with defiant hope, please visit https://love146.org