Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed. Psalm 103:1-6
I have been consumed with this meditation the past few months:
When you find yourself being pulled–by God–out of the valley you have been sitting in, you have also found your mission. You have been given the gift of empathy. And empathy is the required ingredient of mission.
Over the next few days I will be introducing you to my friend, Speciose Nyiramana. She is known as Specy. Her story is one, I hope, will capture your heart and motivate you to live a more purposed, more compassionate life. She is the personification of this meditation. Her story will be a two part Everyday Extraordinary Woman presentation.
As we sat together over coffee and danishes and she recounted her story, I shared with her this idea. I explained how I saw her life as the perfect example of someone who has endured great hardships, overcome them, and is taking those experiences and lifting the burden of hardships off others. In her humility, she shared ,”I just know what I wanted and needed when I was experiencing these things and want to give them, if I can, to others.” The empathy that drives Specy has manifested in her, with her husband, Dominique, creating a foundation to serve others. I am thrilled to share the work they are doing and how you can help.
This past year the words, Me Too, have been given political power. But I believe the power of “me too” is not found at the end of a hashtag or in the context of a political movement, but instead, in people who have overcome– reaching out hands to someone who is in the midst of hardship and offering empathy and help. Greater than the immediate assistance offered in this action, is the hope that is garnered by proximity to one that has been in the valley, but is no longer. Simultaneously, the one who can now say, “me too,” can find meaningful ways to look back to the valley and find purpose in the suffering. People of faith have evangelized in this method since ancient times. The beloved words, “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see,” speak to having been in the valley of despair, but being free. The purpose of the words: to share, “me too,” to a person overcome with an extended hand in order to share the Good News.
There have been recent days where I have questioned the purpose of suffering. I am not one to lay that which is not good as blame on The One who is Goodness. I am convinced that the very act of Jesus coming and suffering as He did before His death is an exercise in our God being able to say, “Me too.” Can you imagine such goodness? I do, however, recognize the horrible suffering which often comes at the hands of humanity. I believe in sin. And in that belief, there is suffering. The things we do to one another are abhorrent. I see humanity as a two sided coin. If we can damage each other so brutally, then we must have the ability to do good in equal measure. If suffering can serve as a catalyst for people to bring healing to others, while also providing deep healing to self , then its power is diminished doubly. From our valley, may we find mission. And in mission may we be the vessel where the Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.