Choose Light: Ice Buckets and Ferguson, Missouri

This post is part of the Surviving Saturday Devotional series. For more, visit Surviving Saturday

“So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
– The Apostle Paul in Romans 13:12



The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge versus Ferguson, Missouri

Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world where people are diagnosed with awful diseases like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; diseases that erode the body’s muscular capacity transforming perfectly functioning individuals into motionless, frozen bodies.

I’ve seen it up close; it’s awful. A dear family friend, Swain Smith, was diagnosed when I was in high school and I watched the disease progress from slurred speech to immobility, confining its victim to a wheelchair and eventually, a hospital bed. Then, death.

Similarly, we live in a world where teenagers are shot and killed; a horrendous, horrific tragedy from all perspectives. I can’t begin to surmise or compare the difference between losing a loved one or killing another human being. Each has their own hell that someone must live with, forever. This is a wound of the deepest kind. Rather than crippling the body, it cripples the soul yielding anger, dissension, wrath, and destruction. If you hear nothing else, hear this: Those are the qualities that hell is built upon, if you choose them, you’re choosing hell on earth.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At their core, both situations, an ALS diagnosis and the tragic shooting in Ferguson, are a function of darkness; imperfect, fallen people. Visible reminders that, no matter how much we try, we are broken.

This much is true, we will never be able to fix our broken condition. Nothing within our power can rid ourselves of that permanent disease. However, we are given one promise: the freedom of choice. It is the greatest freedom we have, yet one we often fail to see.

No matter the circumstance, we choose how we will respond, everyday, to every situation.

Choose Light

When Peter Frates was diagnosed with ALS, he made a choice. I’m sure Anger and Wrath ran through his mind, among other things. He could have easily given up and let his condition overcome him. However, he hasn’t let those external seeds of brokenness take root in his heart. He chose to fight with Hope, Humility, and Love.

He simply began bringing attention to a need, speaking out about ALS research, championing its call for its cure. In early August, he challenged some friends to donate money to his cause, or dump ice water on their heads. We know the rest of the story.

It’s a common bond between people regardless of political party, skin color, social status, or spiritual beliefs; people choosing light.

And then there’s Ferguson. The violence and the backbiting continues, on all sides. Hopelessness spiraling out of control, darkness taking root in the hearts of many, a chasm that divides.

Do you see the difference?

Both situations are tragic, it is the response that is different. From there, the outcome speaks for itself.


Because only light can fight darkness.

This is not just a pitch to say, choose light; it’s much deeper than that. We do need light, but a Light that is greater than we know ourselves. We need new Life. The kind of Life that will only come from one source: The Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the hope of nations and it holds the Life that is the Light of men.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

At its core, the Gospel present a choice.

Believe, or Don’t.

Life or Death.

Hope or Hopelessness.

Light or Darkness.

Above, Jesus says, “Whoever follows me.” He knew that some wouldn’t. In fact, the Pharisees He was speaking to were of that persuasion. They couldn’t look past their own pride and anger. They couldn’t accept their own brokenness.

Friends, we are broken; you and I both. We all need Light and when we choose this Light, this Life that Jesus offers, he grants us a light of our own.

“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Following requires action, devotion. It is action in Him and devotion to Him that shine your light.

The world needs more ice bucket challenges and less Ferguson, Missouri.

The world needs people shining hope and life and light.

The choice is ours.

CHALLENGE – Do one thing today that brings light to someone, tell us about it below


This isn’t an opinion about the situation in Ferguson, who’s right and who’s wrong. Those events are appalling, hope-crushing, and deeply troubling. I despise them, all of them, with all my being. We all lose in that scenario. This is about a choice we all have to make.

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4 Responses to Choose Light: Ice Buckets and Ferguson, Missouri

  1. Janeen Kilgore August 23, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    OH my goodness! What a great and thoughtful post. I live a couple of hours from Ferguson, have listened to the concerns from family who live even closer, and watched the ice bucket challenges. I just never connected the two. Thank you.

    • Matt Ham August 23, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      I’m glad, Janeen. Thanks for being here!

  2. Corie Clark August 23, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Great post, Matt! We must start right where we are. Spreading light and love in our homes and communities. Thanks for sharing!

    • Matt Ham August 23, 2014 at 11:49 am #

      Thank you, Corie. I’m with you, this message needs to take fire in our communities. We will do what we can!