Life Interrupted: Real People, Real Stories That Give Us Hope

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2: 3-5, NIV  

On September 11, 2001, the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history occurred with the hijacking of four commercial airliners. One of the airlines, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania, never reaching its intended target. The courageous crew and passengers fought against the terrorists, thwarting their plan. Almost 3,000 people lost their lives during the attacks. This number would certainly have been higher if not for the actions of those aboard Flight 93.

Seven crew members and thirty-three passengers’ lives were interrupted. They knew they would die but used their last minutes to fight for other people’s interests.

A winter storm with blizzard-like conditions pummeled New York on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2022. In Buffalo, New York, a developmentally disabled man was lost, disoriented, and stranded in the storm. News outlets reported hurricane-like wind gusts at times, and the temperature was only four degrees Fahrenheit —and colder with the wind chill.

Over the howling wind, a young woman named Sha’Kyra heard the feeble cries of a man. She could see him stuck in the snow by peering out of her window. Sha’Kyra and a friend braved the snow and cold to rescue Joey, who was severely frostbitten. Sha’Kyra cared for a total stranger in her home until men who heard of her plea for help from a Facebook post arrived in a pickup truck and transported Joey to the hospital. Sha’Kyra did not leave Joey; she rode to the hospital with him.

Sha’Kyra and the men who braved severe weather conditions in a pickup truck interrupted their lives to care for Joey, putting his interest above theirs.

On August 8, 2023, wildfires broke out in Maui, Hawaii, killing 97 people; 31 people were missing, and the town of Lahaina was destroyed by fire. News reports and aerial videos of the devastation were heart-wrenching to watch. However, reports of people helping each other to survive and the response from people around the U.S. were encouraging. But one story captured and held my attention. Lani and her mother, Noni, tried to escape the wildfires by car in stand-still traffic. They decided their only chance of survival was to get out of the car and climb over the seawall into the ocean. Noni has trouble walking and uses a walker; getting over the wall seemed impossible until a stranger, a young man named Benny, appeared. He carried Noni on his back over the seawall, and He stayed with Lani and Noni in the water for over eight hours until help arrived.

The wildfires interrupted the lives of Benny, Lani, Noni, and so many others. Benny decided to put the interests of Lani and Noni above his own.

What emotions do you feel when reading these stories? Sadness? Anger? Shock? Grief What about pride, happiness, encouragement, and hope for the goodness in humanity?

If we are honest with ourselves, the type of self-sacrifice in the stories may be hard to understand because our natural inclination is to look out for ourselves and those we love. For most of us, we need no instructions on how to serve our interests. While there is nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves, we also need to focus on the needs of others and help whenever we can.

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes to the Philippian church while imprisoned in Rome to thank them for their financial gift of support. Paul’s love and appreciation towards the believers at Philippi and his teaching about how to live out their faith in humility, joy, and unity applies to believers today.

In Philippians 2:3-5, Paul provides examples for Christian living that serve as an attitude-adjusting guide for the believer. Paul reminds us that the ability to put others first comes from having the same mind as Christ. We imitate the mind of Christ in our thinking, attitude, and actions.

  • The mind of Christ enables us to consider the needs of others without selfish ambition or vain conceit, “empty glory.”
  • The mind of Christ enables us to embrace the humility of Christ, a characteristic that arises out of love and prevents us from elevating ourselves above others. Jesus humbled himself in obedience unto death on a cross.
  • The mind of Christ enables us to develop the habit of encouraging and not becoming indifferent to the needs and suffering of others.

When the world seems dark, heavy, and overwhelmed by the many evils of humanity, it may be hard to have faith at times. But no matter what is happening in the world, for every bad news story, there are countless untold stories of people helping people and making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Look around, open your eyes, and observe all the ordinary people with the mind of Christ who interrupt their lives and decide to serve others in extraordinary ways.