The light shines in the darkness

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.                            John 1: 5

In a week in which there was so much bad news, particularly of man’s inhumanity to man, one story has stood out for me as a beacon of light.  It is a story with a sad, possibly tragic ending but in itself I believe the story is one of hope because at its centre is a human being, a young woman, who has shown wisdom, courage, commitment to others and a maturity which far outstrips her age of 26.

Aid worker Kayla Jean Mueller, is a young American woman, taken hostage by Islamic State in 2013, whom they reported killed by a US air strike this week.  Like several of the hostages before her, Kayla was working in Syria for an aid agency, trying to relieve in some small way, the suffering of others.  Much of her work was with Syrian children, visiting refugee camps where she played and painted with them.

It was the latest in a whole list of caring roles she had taken on from the start of her university days.  She had worked at an HIV/AIDS clinic in the US and helped at an orphanage in India. She volunteered for aid organisations in both Israel and the West Bank and she began working with the victims of the conflict in Syria.

A report in Kayla’s local Arizona newspaper, The Daily Courier, quoted her as saying the following,

She found that she “couldn’t do enough” to help Syrian families, “When Syrians hear I’m an American, they ask, ‘Where is the world?’ All I can do is cry with them, because I don’t know,” she told the newspaper.  She heard stories of children being hurt by unexploded bombs, women being forced into early marriages, and children being forced to fight for both sides.  “Syrians are dying by the thousands, and they’re fighting just to talk about the rights we have,” Kayla told the newspaper.  “For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal. (I will not let this be) something we just accept,” she said.

Reading about Kayla this week, I discovered a young woman who appears to have had a thirst for justice, particularly for the victims of war and the disenfranchised; a woman who turned her caring into action.  But what made everything that she has done so special to me was this final comment.

“When asked what kept her going in her mission, she said: ‘I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine. If this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you.'”

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.  Frederick Buechner