forgiveness • peacemaking • reconciliation
equality • poverty • missions


Never Give Up: Four Ways to Save Somebody

July 13, 2018 by

When life got tough for kids in his church youth group, my father used to loosely quote Winston Churchill, about the only three things worth remembering on life’s journey: “Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never, give up!”

All of us are susceptible to discouragement and at times feel like giving up, with reasons that range from the ludicrous to the weighty. You might have lost your driver’s license; you might be fed up with any and all political solutions to anything; your relationship to your spouse is most emphatically not what you dreamed of; your children are a mystery to you and you don’t know how to help them; a chronic illness refuses to go away; the world is a mess and no one seems to care.

Sometimes it’s hard to help ourselves, so here’s a solution: help someone else. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Here are four essentials that have helped me encourage other members of this struggling human race.

1.  Compassion

Make a promise to view any and every soul with compassion. Crippled and languishing in a nursing home or in the full bloom of health; in the gutter or in a place of authority, look into their heart, perceive their need, and do what’s appropriate to their situation.

Often it’s only a look in the eye that says, “I know what you’re going through.”

Be real. Be practical. Sometimes it’s an offer to a young mother to help her haul a stroller up the steps of a subway station. Maybe it’s an older couple that needs firewood hauled in. Or maybe it’s a promise to put someone on your prayer list.

young man fixing door

2.  Love

Some people forget to love the sinner as well as hate the sin. Others forget that if you love the sinner you will hate the sin all the more. When we hear about suffering in any part of the world, no matter what the religion or race involved, don’t harden your heart and act as if it doesn’t matter. To quote Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, we will have peace on earth.”

3.  A non-judgmental attitude

Easier said than done, I know. Being non-judgmental is so closely tied to love and compassion that it is almost the same thing. From the four Gospels to the writings of Oscar Romero to the poetry of Rumi to the plays of Shakespeare, the message is the same: the refusal to judge others leaves us free to fully enjoy them and thus enjoy life in abundance. With this attitude, love and compassion can flow most freely.

How often we assume someone is lazy or shiftless only to find out he or she has an undisclosed illness or disability. And how easy it is to read about a criminal and pass our own judgement based on what the news tells us.

Make a promise to yourself to view any and every soul with compassion.

I once counseled a young man in Canada who taught me a lot on that score. He was of Ojibway-Scotch background and was serving time for armed robbery, and told me very frankly how he got there. At the age of fourteen, he had fought with his stepfather, throwing him down the stairs, and was subsequently kicked out of the house. On the streets, he was sucked into a gang that demanded murder as a membership requirement. He soon entered into a life of crime, all but killing a man he found in bed with his girlfriend. I had to ask myself, would I have done any better if I had been kicked out onto the streets of Winnipeg? I might not even have survived!

4.  Be truly thankful

If we are appreciative of the little things, it will change our attitude toward the big stuff. Every time I visit a prison, I come away with a renewed appreciation of the gift of freedom. I have no bars to stop me, no gates to unlock, unlike the 21 percent of the world’s prisoners that live in this country. But as with so many things, I barely appreciate freedom and life until they are seriously threatened.

Does it take a near-death experience to truly appreciate life? Dostoyevsky’s life changed profoundly and permanently when he was given a last-minute reprieve from execution. While he was standing before the firing squad, at the “ready” stage of “ready, aim, fire,” an emissary from the Czar raced in on horseback with a pardon in hand. Dostoyevsky’s influence now continues worldwide through his deep and challenging literature.

Yes, find something to fight for. And don’t worry if you seem to stand alone; that is how history is made. And of course, how could I forget? Never give up. See you at the front lines.


About the author

Simon Mercer

Simon Mercer

Simon Mercer is a free-thinking Anabaptist, would-be poet who lives at the Maple Ridge Bruderhof.

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  • They are true and very helpful advices we nee to remember always. Lets not give up to save somebody. The love is stronger than hate.