We are inundated with examples of witnesses who have seen terrible things with their own eyes.
There are the bystanders – including at least two children – who witnessed the death of George Floyd according to their sworn testimony last week. There are witnesses throughout the world who have witnessed war crimes and unspeakable human misery.
Many of us saw the film footage of a 65 year old Filipino woman being knocked down and kicked in NYC in front of at least three live witnesses who did nothing to help her.
Individually, we have witnessed the death of loved ones, the heartbreak of broken relationships and the disappointment of broken dreams. And . . . we have witnessed so many beautiful things too. Miraculous things.
I remember the words of the apostle Paul from Sunday’s Easter worship in describing the resurrection appearances of Jesus:
“Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” 1 Corinthinans 15:8
So what beautiful life-changing things have your witnessed?
I remember when Rob Bell (during his Mars Hill Church years) was interviewed on a random Sunday while being interviewed by a secular reporter. The journalist was trying to understand why so many people would gather in a former shopping mall to worship God in the 21st Century. Why would anyone do that? And Bell said something like this, looking from behind the curtain with the journalist before worship: I don’t know why they are here except that couple over there lost a child a few months ago, and yet can still put their shoes on in the morning. And there’s a woman who endured abuse all her life sitting over there and she finds purpose and joy in working with neglected children now. And that person over there is trying to recover from a life of addiction.
In a world filled with the traumatic experiences we have witnessed, who will speak up about the miracles? If we don’t believe we have witnessed miracles, we are not paying attention.
Maybe it takes some concentration. We are so used to the world’s tragedies that we forget that there are glorious moments of healing and grace in our midst.
There are the parents who celebrated the 15th birthday of their daughter last weekend although she is forever six after dying during a school shooting. Somehow, they inspire other human beings to rise up. How is that possible? And yet this is something I witnessed on Easter morning.
There is the person thoroughly betrayed by her partner during a particularly vulnerable time in her life and somehow has the strength to offer life-saving community to people who have no hope.
There’s the child who is somehow a miraculous prophet while enduring treatment for cancer while bringing her estranged family together.
There’s the person who has absorbed systemic racism all their life and somehow has the strength to offer grace to ignorant people (like me.)
What beauty have you witnessed? What healing have you observed? We have a responsibility in the name of Jesus to tell others what we’ve seen and heard, not in a way that shames the sorrowful or minimizes someone’s pain. But there is hope and maybe we can offer some.
When has God appeared to you? I’ve seen God in so many parts of life. I know you have too. Let’s share that Good News.