Two men became blind in the same factory explosion — one doomed to pathetic beggaring, the other a successful insurance salesman.
Fourteen years after the accident, they meet up and the blind one corners the rich one for a handout, which he obliges. But as he presses for extra money, he rehearses the story. The guy behind me, knocked me down and trampled me to get out, he moans. The story is meant to heighten sympathy and squeeze out an extra dollar or two.
But the rich one confronts the beggar. No, he says, it was you who pulled me down and trampled me. The beggar had not recognized the rich one. In the re-telling, he lied to make himself a greater victim.
In this genius story, Man Who Had No Eyes, by MacKinlay Kantor, one man succumbs to tragedy, another overcomes adversity. Which one will you be? Which will I? Will our painful circumstances reduce us to a shell of the former, outgoing, optimistic selves.
To get a better idea, read the super-short story yourself.
I used to dismiss the notion of powerlessness. I had heard it in terms of sociologists who described people trapped by poverty. They’re just making excuses, I snorted.
Then, I grappled with powerlessness myself. When I was a missionary, an extortionist falsely accused me of a crime. I was the victim, but I feared the corrupt justice system coupled with anti-gringo sentiment would conspire to send me to the hellhole of jail in Guatemala. I fasted five days a week. I went to bed thinking about jail and woke up thinking about jail. I was gripped by the claws of powerlessness.
At the end, God vindicated the innocent. I learned to trust Him even in the ugliest of scenarios. And I no longer scoffed at powerlessness. It is a huge and terrifying force.
When you’re facing cancer, you can feel powerless. When the recession closes all doors to you. With your prodigal child. With your unfaithful spouse. Addiction can render you powerless to stop abusing drugs. A hurricane is coming, and you can’t stop it or escape. You cannot take control of your future. There is nothing you can do. It is out of your hands. Anyone can belittle your struggle, but only you face these demons alone.
Being powerless is good. It throws you on God entirely. It arouses faith like nothing else. Your moment of powerlessness will be hellish anguish. But it will also be sweetest fellowship with the Lord. (Praise and worship was my only relief from my living nightmare!)
When you are powerless, He remains powerful.