By Chaplain (Maj.) Tommie Pickens, Fort Knox RSOAugust 18, 2017
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
--Isaiah 45: 5-7
Working as a hospital chaplin clinician in 2007 during my rounds I experienced an overwhelming excitement about visiting and listening to incredible stories form senior saints (patients). One particular day a 91-year-old woman shared that when she died and met God, I am going to ask him something that had really bothered me for a very long time. "If man was created in God's image, and if all men are created equal, why do people treat each other so badly?"
I can imagine God's reply that each person who enters our life has a unique lesson to teach us. It is only through these lessons that we learn about life, people and our relationships with God. This confused the woman, so God began to explain:
"When someone lies to you, it teaches you that things are not always what they seem. The truth is often far beneath the surface. Look beyond the masks people wear if you want to know what is in their hearts. Remove your own masks to let people know who you really are.
"When someone steals from you it teaches you that nothing is forever. Always appreciate what you have. You never know when you might lose it. Never take your friends or family for granted, because today and sometimes only this very moment is the only guarantee you may have.
"When someone inflicts injury upon you, it teaches you that the human state is a very fragile one. Protect and take care of your body as best as you can, it's the one thing that you are sure to have forever.
"When someone mocks you, it teaches you that no two people are alike. When you encounter people who are different from you, do not judge them by how they look or act, instead base it on the contents of what is in their hearts.
"When someone breaks your heart, it teaches you that loving someone does not always mean that the person will love you back. But don't turn your back on love, because when you find the right person, the joy that one person brings you will make up for all of your past hurts times a thousand fold.
"When someone holds a grudge against you, it teaches you that everyone makes mistakes. When you are wronged, the most virtuous thing you can do is forgive the offender without pretense. Forgiving those who have hurt us is often the most difficult and painful of life's experiences, but it is also the most courageous thing a person can do.
"When a loved one is unfaithful to you, it teaches you that resisting temptation is man's greatest challenge. Be vigilant in your resistance against all temptations. By doing so, you will be rewarded with an enduring sense of satisfaction far greater than the temporary pleasure by which you were tempted.
"When someone cheats you, it teaches you that greed is the root of all evil. Aspire to make your dreams come true, no matter how lofty they may be. Do not feel guilty about your success, but never let an obsession with achieving your goals lead you to engage in malevolent activities.
"When someone ridicules you, it teaches you that nobody is perfect. Accept people for their merits and be tolerant of their flaws. Do not ever reject someone for imperfections over which they have no control."
The senior saint concluded by saying I realized throughout my life time that good and evil has to co-exist because man's capacity to love is the greatest gift he has. At the root of kindness and love, and each act of love also teaches us a lesson.
"When someone loves us it teaches us love, kindness, charity, honesty, humility, forgiveness, acceptance and all of these can counteract all the evil in the world. For every good deed, there is one evil deed. Man alone has the power to control the balance between good and evil, because the lessons of love are not taught often enough, the power is too often abused.
"When you enter someone's life, whether by plan, chance or coincidence, consider what your lesson will be. Will you teach love or a harsh lesson of reality? When you die, will your life have resulted in more loving or more hurting? More comfort or more pain? More joy or more sadness? Each one of us has the power over the balance of the love in the world. Use it wisely."
Don't miss an opportunity to nudge the world's scale in the right direction.