“Paid in full?” I questioned—hardly able to take it in.
It was a random act of kindness, and the ripple effect of it shattered the core of disbelief that had been growing in my heart.
After nurse’s training in Denver, I worked and saved money to attend Bible school. I knew Christian-leadership training would complete the circle of preparation for the calling of service I sensed for the future. When it came time to depart, I left with enough money for one semester. And I thanked the Lord for it. That was more than a number of students had upon entering the two-year ministry school located in Dallas, Texas.
I struggled financially through the first year and made ends meet by working part-time as a nurse. You can imagine my utter joy and surprise when I entered the administrative headquarters building to discuss payment for the second year and the registrar told me my bill had been paid in full for the entire year, including Hebrew classes. I was stunned and could scarcely believe it. An anonymous donor had paid for my complete second-year of Bible school.
I didn’t walk home to my dorm room; I floated… I walked on air for the next semester. Who could have done such a kind thing? And why me? That generous gift changed my life.
And I learned something sweet about my heavenly Father. I felt His love in such a tangible way. I KNEW He cared and was actively involved in my life. I learned something about myself as well. Previously I had felt “short-changed.” Various circumstances in the past had quietly robbed my hope and joy for the future. My thoughts were inaccurate and originated from the father of lies; but at the time, they seemed very real.
That great gift—a random act of kindness—somehow evened the score concerning the past. I know it is strange, but it brought justice to some things for which I had questioned God. Even though I mistakenly had blamed Him and my thinking was twisted, God still used an anonymous donor to show His love. I felt like I had stopped and started life with a clean slate. As the scripture says, “I forgot the things of the past and pressed on to that upward calling in Christ Jesus…”
I have other examples in life as well that did the same thing. God’s greatest gift to me is my husband. I am amazed that my heavenly Father would give such a wonderful life partner. His leadership and love have constantly proven the promises of God are true and faithful and the lies of the devil are full of hot air.
The adoption of my precious daughter from Guatemala and the joy of her life also prove to me everyday that God is faithful and the Father of Lights continues to give treasures to His children.
These gifts help blot out the injustice and balance the scale of the rotten things that happen because we live in a fallen world that is in active rebellion against Creator God.
On the other hand, giving random acts of kindness blesses my socks off. It truly exceeds receiving. Once, I paid the bill for a woman that stood in line behind me at the grocery store. She appeared to be struggling financially and had three crying children at her feet. Her face clouded with hopelessness.
Quietly, I gave the cashier enough cash to cover the woman’s items. I didn’t stay to see what happened, but I cried all the way home for the sheer joy of giving. A burst of purpose exploded in my heart. I found it contagious and yearned to do it again.
My pleasure most likely exceeded the woman’s surprise of happiness. But I bet, that random act of kindness helped even the score in a small way for the injustices that she had endured in life—or at least helped smooth down the roughness.
Injustice keeps us from God. Both believers and non-believers often ask the same questions about why God allows suffering or injustice. I have worked with Jewish Holocaust survivors around the world. The severity of their suffering and loss has caused some to stop believing in God’s justice. If the Lord of Heaven is not just, then He does not love either. Many stop believing in Him altogether. I do not minimize their reactions to such heinous crimes perpetrated against the Jewish people during World War II.
One of the best books ever written about the injustices of the Holocaust is Elie Wiesel’s, Night. His recollections rebound off the pages as a personal and historical documentation of that living hell—one whose screams shriek to this day from the scorched land and the scarred lives of survivors.
When I read Night, the brutality of such inhumane acts and loss of innocent life grieved my soul deeply. I blinked in disbelief and shuddered with the turning of each page. The horrors grew more ghastly, more demonic; and the story ended in unresolved hopelessness.
Brushing tears from my eyes, compassion rose in my heart as I closed the small book. My bones ached with the inability to change circumstances for the Wiesel family, for the whole Jewish nation. One statement from Night pierced my heart above the others:
“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed.”
It is hard to wrap my mind around the anguish and despair that drove a man to write such words. As I read, my heart longed for justice—that which would cancel the darkness and the curse.
Later, I saw Oprah interview Wiesel. She asked him, “Can you draw some good from this experience?” He shook his head no. Wiesel had lost his faith.
Faith and justice must exist side by side. There will not be justice if faith dies, conversely there will not be faith if injustice goes unpunished. It is so intertwined that Jesus used it in a parable in Luke 18 about the woman who persuades the judge by pleading for justice. Because she does not let up, he grants her request.
Two things stand out from this strong illustration about faith and justice:
1) We are not to avenge ourselves. God is the righteous judge, and His very name is Justice. He will right injustice in the earth, but we must plead for it relentlessly as the widow did.
2) We must not lose our faith as we wait for His justice. Thus, the question at the end of the parable, “Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when He returns?” He WILL find justice, but will He find faith?
Bringing justice in life is not the problem because God’s very nature is just. Keeping faith while we wait on God’s timing is.
The ministry that my husband and I serve reaches out to Jewish Holocaust survivors regularly. In Ukraine, we have provided feeding programs and aid. Students of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute bring food and medicines into the homes of survivors. They sit and talk with the recipients and eventually find open doors to discuss Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. They explain the Good News in Jewish context, and many have come to embrace redemption. Many have died and gone to heaven.
It brings us joy to make an eternal difference in Jewish people’s lives because they have suffered through the Holocaust so unjustly. These changed lives started with the small act of kindness in bringing a meal to the home of a poor, Jewish Holocaust survivor.
Random or planned acts of kindness can help even the score in the lives of others. They open the heart to hear and receive salvation. They heal scars and restore people’s faith in the goodness of God. Extended kindness through acts of love becomes a significant signpost on life’s roughed road that points to heaven instead of eternal destruction.
I don’t want to minimize the need for rightful justice. That is why the world brought Nazi leaders to trial and punished them. The need to even the score will never end in this life. God cares about justice more than we do. He also cares that faith remains strong. I pray for Elie Wiesel—for justice and his faith to be restored—for God’s people to show him kindness, so he may believe.
Even in writing this, I am inspired to re-exam the kindness around me that helps alleviate the pain of injustice. I believe God is breaking through to me by showing me His love over and over. I also know I have the power to help someone else see that God is reaching out to her through small yet significant kindnesses.
As a black and white person who loves justice and the wrongs of life to be righted, I am really jazzed that God has given me the power to help even the score through a simple, cup of kindness.