The Hidden Gift In Suffering
Every now and then I come across a story in the news that highlights the best of human behavior. I find such stories of great value, as they provide noble examples worthy of imitation. And, they remind me of the more important things in life. This is especially vital now as a precipitous moral decline grips our society.
On a recent segment of the ABC television program “What Would You Do?” the question was posed: “If Someone Falls Down on the Sidewalk: What Do You Do?” An actor portrayed a homeless person collapsing on the sidewalk to see if passerby’s would provide any assistance. Scores of individuals walked by, ignoring the fallen individual. However, one women stopped and persistently offered help and comfort, prompting another passerby to call for an ambulance on a cell phone. Her story can be seen in the embedded video. You will find it inspiring and of great significance if you are currently a victim of long-term injustice.
What I found most touching was the plight of the woman who stopped to help and comfort the fallen man. Linda Hamilton was herself homeless, and partially disabled. Yet, she demonstrated extraordinary compassion and kindness. Her warm humanity in spite of her own suffering stood in sharp contrast to the willful insensitivity of the other passerby’s. Rejecting the prejudice and hatred that blinds many to the plight of others, she acted in a merciful way.
This reminds me of a powerful lesson taught by Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan, a priest and a Levite on seeing an injured man walked past him on the opposite side of the road rather than turn aside to help him. It was a Samaritan, typically despised by Jews, who extended aid to the stricken man. Indeed, Jesus by both word and deed demonstrated compassion for the poor and took a personal interest in their needs. —Luke 10:30-37.
This video provides a another powerful lesson. Suffering can give us a wonderful gift. Enduring suffering can make us more compassionate and merciful if endured with the right attitude. No doubt, Linda, having suffered homelessness herself, became more sensitive to plight of those in similar conditions. She was moved to help as a result.
Finally, I am reminded to never allow suffering to embitter me. I must not adopt the callous attitude that afflicts so much of society. In the video, more than 80 people walked past the homeless man lying on the sidewalk, doing nothing to come to his aid. That insensitivity reflects what is going on in larger society. It is shaping how neighbor treats neighbor. I can choose not to be that way. I must use the suffering I face to become more sympathetic to the suffering of others. Also, I cannot simply feel compassion for others. Like Linda, I must demonstrate compassion and kindness to those who suffer, especially strangers. Developing such beautiful qualities, refined by suffering, can only endear us more to God and fellowmen.