There have been too many times in life where my heart has been crushed by the suffering of others. Their experiences and anguish were hard to hear. I can’t imagine how they lived through those times. Some had gathered the fortitude and faith to persevere; others, not so much.
What the human spirit, heart, and body can endure always amazes me. I remember a woman, a teacher, once came to me with grey hair. The day before her hair had been auburn. The beating she had endured the previous night had been so terrifying that it turned her hair grey in a matter of minutes. Her husband is now in jail. How did she endure such terror?
Another person I know has almost lost her mind and any will to live because of a brutal rape. Another woman came to me after her 6th abortion. Sixth! She wasn’t sure who she was anymore; she wasn’t sure she could ever have children.
Other friends have lived through “less” traumatic experiences— the suicide of a husband, the loss of a job, living on the grace of others after months of unemployment, the loss of their child. My heart aches for these people.
Over the years, I have been able to move from sympathetic to empathetic, allowing me some distance to garner wisdom and perspective on their horror. It is hard to help another when we are in the thick of it with them. When there, we can offer comfort; but little else. We have not the strength.
On a grander scale, my heart aches for this world— the natural catastrophes, the fires, floods, and earthquakes; but also the human devastations— genocides, regional wars, terrorists attacks, the manipulation of the balance of trade, the prices of oil and grains, and forced poverty and human sex trafficking. The injustices I read online every hour. All of this weighs on me heavily.
How should I, should we, respond to this mess?
My first thought is to become a part of the solution. To make a difference! To be one-of-many who count the cost and throw themselves into the fracas. Who, instead of protecting our own interests, look to the needs and well-being of those truly in need.
Sure, my heart still aches. But at least I am doing something. How about you?