Every Life Matters
Fourteen years ago, I had a miscarriage. It was a devastating time for me, but life continued and somehow I made it through an entire extra year of work that I had not anticipated. I was surrounded by people who loved me well, a husband who shared my grief and faithfully pointed me to Jesus, and family who prayed for me, cried with me and reminded me of God’s goodness.
A few months after I lost my baby, a dear friend of mine also had a miscarriage. Her situation was different from mine. She was not married, her family was dysfunctional and she lived far away from the friends and family who were her support system. But I intimately knew the emotional pain that results after the loss of a child and so I sought to comfort her in the same way I had been comforted.
A few weeks after her loss, I was having a conversation with a mutual friend and discovered that this person thought that my friend should not be struggling, because in his opinion, she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. To be quite frank, I was appalled. But it opened my eyes to a pervading attitude in our society, this belief that individuals should have the right to judge someone else’s pain based on their own assumptions and opinions.
As I observe the racial tensions that exist in our country today, I continue to be appalled by the reckless responses based solely on biased opinions. I am disgusted by the unwillingness to enter into someone else’s story and the instant judgment that occurs.
I feel like we have become a society of Prince Humperdincks of The Princess Bride fame saying, “Unless I am wrong, and I am never wrong”. We become impassioned by our own knowledge and opinions, forgetting the humility that we must have in order for any reconciliation to occur between two opposing parties. We accept bigotry and misogyny, racial slurs and superiority as if they are perfectly acceptable behaviors.
We have become a society that celebrates abhorrent misconduct, because we are celebrity driven and for some unknown reason, we have put boldness and saying-it-like-it-is as the highest value, diminishing kindness, respect, empathy and morality. It’s sickening.
For a long time, I felt like this was a problem that was out there, a problem that was too big for my simple, quiet existence. But this cloud has grown and now hangs over my family and it seems that whether or not my words make a difference is not the point. Because the truth is, I don’t control the results of my words, but I am responsible for saying what I feel God is compelling me to say.
So I have to say it.
Every life matters.
We don’t get to hide behind our brilliant deductions, our sound reasonings and our quick judgments. Unless we have taken the time to know another person’s story, we will always be a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
And the command in scripture is very clear- “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone.” ~Hebrews 12:14. But peace is not attained by sitting quietly and hoping that it will work itself out. It is not allowing the loudest voice to dictate the behavior of the crowd. Seeking peace will sometimes mean we have to fight. Fight against injustices (committed against ANY person regardless of race, religion or ethnic background). Fight for truth. Fight for kindness and generosity.
From the very beginning of time, we see this struggle among humanity to be the best, to be first, to be better than the rest. What Cain didn’t understand was that God’s love is not limited (Genesis 4:6,7). In God’s economy, there is no pinnacle, no king of the mountain, no president, no CEO, no first chair, no leads, no star athletes. There is only living out the purpose for which we were created and that is to bring glory to God. If that was our highest goal, we would never be threatened by someone else’s success AND we couldn’t put others down for their struggles or difficulties. Instead, we would enter in to their lives and rejoice with their victories and mourn with their loss all the while pointing them to Jesus Christ.
Every life matters because Jesus gave his life once for ALL. He didn’t wait for us to live up to his standards in order to love us. He loved us while we were still sinners and is working in all those who believe in Him to change us from the inside out. When we accept the love and grace that he has for us, we are compelled to love others in the same way.
Every life matters because scripture is very clear that ALL of humanity is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). This means that every time we belittle or demean another human being, every time we make ethnic jokes or racist comments, every time we judge someone on their looks or abilities, we are diminishing God’s glory and saying God is less than who He says He is.
“As you did it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me” ~Matthew 25:40. I don’t believe that Jesus’ point here was to say that anyone is lesser than another. I believe he was trying to explain truth in human terms. His point was that because we have a hierarchical system, how we treat even the lowest in that system is how we are treating Him. This means that we cannot claim to be a Christian and then yell at a child. It means that we cannot preach from the pulpit and immediately turn around and shun a brother or sister in Christ. It means that we cannot claim to be a Christian when it serves our purposes and then be hateful and spiteful in our treatment of others.
Every life matters. But here is where it gets difficult for me. Even the judgmental bigots matter. Even the terrorists matter. Even the rapists and murderers and child abusers matter. Because we are not meant to be the ones to determine who matters. Once we start taking that on, then we can slip into Prince Humperdinck attitudes so quickly that we don’t even see the darkness of our own hearts. Every life matters, because there is not a single person on the face of the earth, who God cannot redeem. There is no one He cannot save. There is no one He cannot change. Even me.
Every life matters.