Anne Lamott in her book Hallelujah, Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy says that relieving suffering is the same if we do it easily, right where we are or if we go to Africa and help those in despair. Wow, that really hit me! I have always wanted to do God’s work but felt what I did wasn’t very important. Obviously, we need the amazing people who are willing to sacrifice so much by leaving their homes and going to Africa or to places hit by hurricanes or earthquakes. And, of course, these people are to be deeply admired. But the truth is, we aren’t all meant to do these amazing acts. That, however, doesn’t mean that we can’t do God’s work right where we are. Relieving the suffering in the life of a friend, family member, co-worker, etc. is still relieving suffering. Taking time to stand by someone in need is something we can all do…and it is important. It is what God has called us to do.
God wants each and every one of us to shine the light of His love in this world of darkness. In Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Lamott writes, “The thing about light is that it really isn’t yours; it’s what you gather and shine back. And it gets more power from reflectiveness; if you sit still and take it in, it fills your cup, and then you can give it off yourself.” Living life focused on our Lord requires us to allow His light to fill us and then to let it “shine back.” We must be where we have been placed, and in this place be beacons of light in a world that needs to be reminded of the goodness and love that is around us. We must also resist thinking that these things we can do through Christ here and now are not enough. Trust that if we listen, we will be led to the work that is ours to do in this world.