Every once in a while, I am inspired to write my post based on something that I have seen that has profoundly impacted me. This morning, watching CBS Sunday Morning, we were reminded that it was 43 years ago that we were deeply engaged, as a nation, in the Vietnam War and a very disturbing photo surfaced. Perhaps you will remember it. It was the image of a young, nine year old Vietnamese girl, burned by napalm, running down the road screaming in pain as her naked body was covered in black ash. I have seen the photo numerous times, and if you look it up, it will be instantly familiar to you as well.
A photographer on the scene recorded the tragic image on film and the world was repulsed by the ravages of the war in Vietnam. Could a young child have survived those incredible burns? Well, she did, and she is now a 52 year old woman who has suffered the traumatic aftermath of this dreadful event for most of her life. Kim, as she is known, nearly died multiple times throughout her ordeal – she was even delivered to the morgue and given up as dead. But this little girl didn’t give up – she fought to live and several years later, having had more than 17 surgeries she was finally on the road to recovery.
Now burns like that leave their mark – not only horrific scarring that causes ongoing pain, but loss of function and problems with issues of the mind and brain can also surface. Kim gave up her idea of becoming a doctor, unable to maintain the rigorous study schedule that was required for success. She found it impossible to forget the events of her young life that caused her such constant discomfort.
But then, she learned to distract herself during times of extreme pain, mainly by reading, going for a walk or other ways to keep her mind occupied with something other than her pain and limitations. One of the books that she found comfort in was the Bible – her glimpse into Christianity – and Kim eventually accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. It was a remarkable story of how pain and suffering opened the door for the Holy Spirit to convict her to dedicate her life to Jesus. And something almost as wonderful happened in the process – she found for the first time in her life that she was at peace in her heart – her pain wasn’t as horrific and she found herself dedicating larger amounts of time to prayer. Her relationship with Jesus became the foundation for her to be able to deal with the realities of her life.
That same comfort from Jesus is available to all of us who call him Lord and Savior. And there is a special kind of peace that comes from having a relationship with Jesus. That doesn’t mean that you will never suffer pain or discomfort, but it does mean that you can depend on Jesus to be by your side every step of the way. And please don’t forget that anything is possible with God – even miracles.
The verse for tonight is from the Gospel of John. The apostle tells us about God’s peace, through the words of Jesus himself. We are told, in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants to provide His peace to you – and my prayer is that when you are in pain, or have any kind of discomfort, you will reach out to the God of the universe and unburden yourself – then get ready for a dose of God’s peace in your heart. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…