They stand among the debris, mismatched flip-flops protecting their feet from the hazards they are stepping on, remnants of their homes, as they answer a local reporter’s questions. Three women, wives and mothers, probably related to each other or neighbors. The reporter notices their pretty-once mismatched flip-flops and comments. The women giggle, amused. No, these are not theirs. They found them among the debris that’s why they don’t match. The reporter asks one of the women if she loves purple. She looks down at her feet and says, yes, she thinks she likes purple, and laughs.
The reporter was trying to bring to the surface that endearing quality of the Filipino women: warmth in the face of life’s vicissitudes. Even when nothing matched or made sense.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper squats in front of the shanty made of blanket and sticks. He is talking to two men, one young, one old. They are what’s left of their families, of what once a neighborhood. The old man cooks for the two of them. They have each other. Cooper stands up and approaches a lone woman and asks how she is. She’s looking for her daughter is the answer. She will not leave the area until she has found her daughter. Alive or dead, she needs to know. So, she keeps on walking, searching.
Anderson Cooper saw the courage and resiliency of the Filipino people. He later said, “Thank you for showing us how to live.” How to live in the midst of indescribable grief.
(Photos from BBC)
The senior BBC reporter hops off his chartered helicopter on a small island, signs of Haiyan’s destruction everywhere. Suddenly, the kids come running to him. They come from everywhere. They congregate around the Brit reporter. He at once seems to assume a father-like stance (or maybe Santa Claus?) and asks the children what they need. The tallest among them, a skinny girl, answers earnestly, “We have been given food, but we need shelter. We lost our houses. We need materials to build our houses.” She speaks in unbroken English and one can feel she’s loving that chance to be able to talk to a foreigner. The reporter repeats her request in a question and they all answer in unison: Yes! The reporter warms up to them. The kids are bursting with gladness that someone visits them; with gratitude that someone listens to them; and with hope for still a bright tomorrow. Because they just believe and trust. Children do that.
All these scenes that play out in my mind bring me to two things: the promises of the Lord to those who overcome and the untarnished faith of a child which opens the kingdom of heaven.
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat. 18:2-4)
In The Book of Revelations, the Lord pronounced many promises to those who overcome. In the early months of my illness and salvation, when I was still trying to grasp what had happened to my life, these passages in Revelations helped me understand and, yes, overcome my dejection and confusion. In Revelations 2 and 3, seven times the Lord said that “He who overcomes” will receive the specific promises.
I began to understand that God gives us things, hard things, to overcome so that we can qualify for those promises. I thought that if He doesn’t give someone something to overcome, how can that someone get the chance to receive His promises? Only he or she who had had things to overcome will receive each promise. Therefore, when God gives us something to overcome, He is actually giving us the chance to be recipients of His promises.
These hard things that He gives us, often we think we can’t possibly overcome. The initial reaction is fear. But I believe that when He does, He will also supply the grace we need to be able to overcome: faith, strength, wisdom. Sometimes it’s a tough battle, long and excruciating. But we continue to wrestle until He gives us victory.
In my long years of sickness and suffering, there was, and still is, a wide array of things I needed to overcome: fears, complainings, bitterness, doubts, self-pity, sorrow, discouragement, hopelessness. The Lord has faithfully helped me through all these, to overcome each one. Victory in these areas doesn’t always come easy. But I now have a clear understanding that we are called to be overcomers. To be more than conquerors.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39 NIV)
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