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Hope in a Season of Rain, Part Two

Early on in the pandemic shutdown, a box arrived at our house. The writing on the box made it obvious it had been sent from oversees. Our older son Reid is currently living in Hong Kong. For five years before moving to the island, he had lived on mainland China, so it certainly crossed our

Early on in the pandemic shutdown, a box arrived at our house. The writing on the box made it obvious it had been sent from oversees.

Our older son Reid is currently living in Hong Kong. For five years before moving to the island, he had lived on mainland China, so it certainly crossed our minds that it could be from him. My wife opened the box and much to our surprise, it wasn’t.

While our younger son Ryan was enrolled at Penn State, he became friends with a student from China whose English name is Shelly. For about a year before her graduation, we had the privilege of being Shelly’s American family. She experienced her first Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays with us. We also had the joy of developing a long-distance friendship with her mother and father who live in Shanghai. Their English names are Wilson and Helen. When Shelly graduated from PSU, we had the joy of hosting Shelly and Helen at our house. It was an experience we cherish to this day.

After graduation, Shelly moved on to New York City to earn her Master’s degree and later got married. Over the years, our lives went in different directions and we basically fell out of touch.

So you can imagine our surprise when we discovered the box had been sent from Wilson and Helen in Shanghai. It was filled with face masks and rubber gloves. The only correspondence in the box was a handwritten note that said, “The mountains and rivers are different, the wind and the moon are the same. Walk hand in hand. Embrace the future.”

Wilson and Helen live on the other side of the planet in the very country we blame for starting the global pandemic. They are aware that many of our citizens are holding China, and the Chinese people, in contempt. They hear the news stories of Chinese people in the US who are being maligned and mistreated because of the pandemic. Those reports must be causing heavy rain in their hearts. But in a season of rain, they decided to be pour out hope.

Friends, Wilson and Helen are Buddhist, Chinese, communists — at least those are the meaningless labels we would stick on them. The labels seem important to us, and I think it’s because it gives us someone to blame for our problems.

Blame shifting is a fundamental human flaw. It started with Adam when he blamed Eve for his problems, and continued when Eve blamed the serpent for hers. We just love to blame others for our misery. Doing so allows us to treat them as “less than”. And when one human treats another human as “less than”, the end result is ugly.

Wilson and Helen could have felt wounded and rejected. Instead, they poured out hope.

Friends, if Buddhist, Chinese communists can figure out how to pour out hope in a season of rain, then surely the followers of Jesus Christ can do the same. If we can’t, then we need to stop wearing His label. Without the demonstration of self-less love, His label can’t stick to us.

“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” See Romans 5:8.

In the midst of our rain, Jesus poured out hope — and to this day He is calling on His followers to do the same. If we can’t get that right, then His label doesn’t stick. Period.

Last week, Heather and I were walking on the Lycoming Creek bike path. In the distance, we could see a man riding his bicycle as he headed in our direction. As he passed by, he gave us a big smile and said, “God bless you!” It was not an especially unusual occurrence because the people on the bike path tend to be very friendly.

But this brief exchange happened in the midst of the racial unrest that has upended our country – and the man on the bicycle was black. In the midst of his rain, he decided to pour out hope on Heather and me. Beautiful.

Hope in a season of rain is a grace-filled miracle, a blessing, a lifting of the heart and soul in the midst of darkness, sadness and fear.

Listen, the mountains and rivers may be different, but the wind and the moon are the same. So walk hand in hand and embrace the future together.

A prayer offered to two American Christians by two Chinese Buddhists. No, a beautiful expression of hope in a season of rain poured out by two lovely human beings. What a treasure — and AMEN!

Friends, it is raining. There is much darkness and fear and hatred in the world today. The pandemic and civil unrest have turned the rain into a deluge. But for those who live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the call to love has not changed. If anything, the call to love grows louder even as the storm clouds gather.

Is there someone you can blame for the rain in your life? Of course there is. We humans can find someone to blame for everything.

Yet Jesus never played the blame game, instead He chose to love. He calls on you and I to do the same.

There is no need for me to enter a debate about who is right and who is wrong. We already know that we are all wrong. As we read last week in Romans 3, we are all guilty.

The only holy option we have is to demonstrate love to each other. When we argue and debate over who did what to whom, all we accomplish is blame shifting and the widening of the division.

Someone must love — and someone must love first. That’s what Jesus did. While we were still powerless and sinful, at just the right time, Jesus died for us. In doing so, He demonstrated that love.

Note: You can read part one by going to http://www.webbweekly.com.

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