Nothing draws us in like a book, a movie, or a TV show where insurmountable odds are fixed in stone and hopelessness is the natural recourse. Yet somehow the odds are overcome and the bad guys are caught, killed, or punished as the good guys flash their smiles as the credits begin to roll. The disease was cured. The relationship was restored. The underdog tapped into greatness. And we all feel great just for knowing about it. Everybody loves a happy ending. Everybody. This approach has served our entertainment industry well over the years. In fact, we count on it. Very few stories without the happy ending make it to the big screen. It’s as though our psyche demands such stories.
But way down in there we all know, or at least we should know, real life seldom turns out that way. In the real world the good guy doesn’t always win. Sometimes the wicked simply continue to prosper and succeed. Sometimes the kind-hearted soul can’t catch a break. In the real world, some people go hungry. In the real world, the powerful dominate and use the weak. That’s the truth. For many Americans, our solution is simple…turn the channel. Close the link. Read another story. Watch another show. Go do something else. Think happy thoughts.
As you can probably tell this blog has a bit of an edge to it. Like everyone else, I, too, like to think about good things…happy things. Sometimes I am able to do that…sometimes I simply can’t. I’m sure we all have the same struggle. This morning when I got to the office I did my usual quick headline check of the most recent news stories. Seldom do I have the time to read more than one or two…but I try to scan 15-20 headlines. One headline caught my attention in a heart-wrenching way. A story so awful caused my world to stop turning. The New York Times released the story entitled, “A Locked Door, a Fire and 41 Girls Killed as Police Stood By.” See what I mean? I truly hope you just lost your breath. The article depicts the horrific condition of young girls in Guatemala who were labeled “at risk” and were placed in a state-run group home for their “protection.” Over the years, allegations of rape, prostitution, and death we were reported again and again. When no one listened…or seemingly cared…the girls decided to make a run for it. 56 girls left their prison in hopes of escaping the hell they were living. Sadly, they were caught and locked up in a small room. They were not allowed to go the restroom and their cries were ignored. In a desperate attempt to get help, one of the girls started a fire in hopes authorities would come to their aid. The fire quickly spread and though help was just outside the door, precious minutes were wasted and 41 of the 56 died a death none of us can imagine. This all took place over 2 years ago and is now coming to court for what we all hope will be the rightful prosecution of some very wicked people. (I suggest you look up the article and read it in its entirety)
The story is despicable for a number of reasons. For starters, the complaints about the group home were ignored again and again. The wretched conditions of these young girls started long before the fire was started…and no one noticed or listened. And perhaps the hardest part to read was that someone taking 2 seconds to simply unlock a door could have saved all 41 lives. The article tragically states their cries eventually turned to an eery silence. There was no Hallmark moment in the story. Real life won the day.
This is not an easy blog to write. The story alone is beyond any string of adjectives or adverbs I can come up with. But there is a spiritual lesson we simply cannot overlook. Christians in this world have been asked to point others to Jesus. Ironically, Jesus calls Himself “the door” in John 10:9-11. As those who have been saved or delivered by His grace, we have been commissioned to tell others what they must do to be saved. We know “the door.” We know where those dead in their sins, trapped in their lostness, and spiritually blind must turn for safety. Sadly, statistics suggest not many Christians are doing that. Recent statistics highlight mostly our silence. Jesus made another ironic statement to Peter in Matthew 16:19 when He said He was giving him the keys of the kingdom of heaven. In Guatemala, some very awful people stood on the safe side of the door and failed (or chose not) to act…kept the keys in their pocket. My prayer is that God will revive our complacent hearts and help us to be intentionally active in leading others to safety…that we will use the keys God has left us with in the Gospel of Christ. The fate of those leaders in Guatemala lies in the hands of a judicial system who may or may not get it right. Our future lies with the One who is always right for He is Truth. What will He say about us? Are we using our keys…or are they in our pockets?
Blessings my friends.