An alternative to going dark

Friday brings a change to the White House, a power shift in Washington. I hope—whether you’ll be commiserating with family and friends, celebrating, or marching in protest—that you’ll take a few moments first to ponder darkness and light, contempt and compassion, condemnation and grace.

I’ve seen buzz growing around the idea of going dark on Facebook this Friday by posting a completely black rectangle where your cover photo would normally be. I confess the idea has some appeal to me, but I also know I have to carefully guard my own soul and heart and mind from settling in with dark thoughts and fears.

Church this past Sunday offered a scripture reading that reminded me of an essential truth to cling to in the days and weeks and months ahead. God calls each of us to reflect God’s light to others:


I will also make You a light of the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth. — Isaiah 49:6

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A grassroots compassion campaign

compassion – (n) [kuhm-pashuhn] a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering (


In last Wednesday’s post, I wrote about the “parasol” God brought to Jonah’s pity party. That parasol was a vine shading Jonah from the heat of the day, and God used it to teach Jonah several lessons. One of those lessons was about the value of compassion, and that’s where I’d like for us to sit together for a while today.

Here again is the compassion part of God’s conversation with Jonah:

Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did
not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight
and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the
great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not
know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many
animals?” – Jonah 4:10-11

God’s main frustration with Jonah during his pity party was the lack of compassion he felt for the people – and animals, too – of Ninevah, the people who had heeded his warnings and put on sackcloth and fasted in hopes of turning away God’s wrath.

I wonder how often God gets frustrated with our own lack of compassion. Those moments when we make snap judgments about those around us or refuse to consider a person’s circumstances before dismissing them as unworthy of our time or patience or help. Those shameful encounters when we tear down even more instead of reaching out a hand to help back up. Those blind eyes we turn to others’ pain.

This struck me hard over the weekend after reading a blog post from a woman who was in that movie theater with her two teenage daughters. Yes, that theater. Though shaken emotionally, she felt compelled to share a message of her unshaken faith (and some amazing faith statements from her daughters) through her blog. The post went viral, and instead of her usual 30 or so readers, more than a million readers from around the world read her testimony to the goodness of God.

Most commented with compassion, but there were some who decided to tear her down instead. To call her selfish. To criticize her actions that night. To correct her grammar. Yes, you read that right. One commenter felt it important to write in to instruct her: It’s “champing at the bit,” not “chomping at the bit.” Continue reading

When God brings a parasol to your pity party

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself praying for shade a lot this hot summer. I’m more grateful than usual when one of the rare spots under a tree in a parking lot is open. Clouds make me almost giddy when I’m out for a morning run. And I’ve even found myself thankful for a large truck’s shadow cast over my car while I wait at a traffic signal.

But I’ll admit. Sometimes I forget to be grateful for these gifts of shade and comfort. Sometimes I’m stuck in a one-woman pity party, and I can’t see past my own bad mood to acknowledge all that’s wonderful around me.

God had to know when He created us that we humans would tend toward pity parties. We have plenty of biblical pity parties to learn from, and in one of my favorites, God even brings a parasol to the party.

A parasol for a pity party?

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