I knew a man once not all that long ago who asked me to join him for a cup of coffee. When we sat down, he looked at me so directly, and asked, “This world would be a better place without me in it.”
Catching my breath, I told him that was absolutely not true. This world would not be the same, or nearly as wonderful, without him being a part of it. Why, I asked, why?
He blinked slowly it seemed, maybe thinking how to say the next words, “Bad things seem to follow me everywhere I go, no matter what I do, it seems like there really isn’t any hope at all for just a simple sense of delight anymore.”
“You know,” I said, “who I am and there is a truth to this idea that we need to have hope in the Lord,” thinking of that story from Isaiah 40:31, and having hope in the Lord and soaring like eagles.
He nodded, he did know me, and said let me tell you a story. I went to my priest and spoke with him. He was kind and wise, and led me through the Bible, and he gave me the verse from Romans 15:13. I still remember it word for word. He recited, “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.”
“I thanked him, but I walked away angry and feeling mean,” he continued. “You see, he didn’t tell me how to do all of this, just that I believe and have faith. I’ve tried that, I wanted that so badly, but it never seems to come for me. So you see, the world would be better off – one less worry, one less mouth to feed, one less someone not to care about.”
“I’m guessing,” I asked, “you have been surrounded by mean people?” “Sometimes yes, but it’s hard to tell,” he said. “They are my friends, and I know they are just teasing or joking with me, but sometimes it feels sort of mean and it makes me wonder what is wrong with me?”
We were almost done with our coffee, and I offered a second round for this couldn’t just stop now. He refused and said he had to go. I asked him to call me tonight. He did, and that went on for a few weeks until I had other things to do, and he did as well. I saw him a few times later that year but stuff happens and he didn’t answer my calls when the time between the calls became a month.
I wish I could tell my friend, the world is not a better place without him in it. I wish I could just hug him and weep with him in his pain and anger. I can’t because he’s not here anymore. I try to very hard to fight that meanness in myself but I wonder why we can’t just be people of grace.
It makes me weep.
Be blessed and be a blessing.