Lately, most of the things that bring me to tears are happy things – call me sappy, but I tear up with tears of joy and awe when I hear of some of the ways God moves. Several days ago, that trend shifted.
Several days ago, a homeless man named Naeem Davis was standing on a subway platform, harassing passersby. Another man, named Ki Suk Han, attempted to calm him down. For his trouble, Davis pushed him onto the tracks of the subway. With lights of an oncoming train beginning to appear in the distance, he struggled frantically back to the platform. However, dazed and injured, he was unable to pull himself out. The train struck him, and in one split second a life – the life of a man who had called two different countries home (first Korea, then for the past 20+ years, the US) and the life of a father – was effectively over. In that last moment, all he could do was watch the inevitable. You are looking at it too. In this picture, a woman is about to lose her husband and a 20-yr-old girl named Ashley is about to lose her father.
There was no help for this man. There were onlookers. And there is a photograph. But no help. I don’t blame the photographer for taking a picture – I am actually happy that he did, because his hope was that his camera flash would signal the conductor to stop the train early. His assumption was that while he was trying to signal the train, the other observers – those closer to Han – would be helping him up. Yet, in this photo, you can see that everyone has backed away. There were onlookers and there is a photograph. But there was no help for this man.
While I don’t blame the photographer, I do have a problem with the fact that there was time to get 3-4 pictures taken before the train was struck, with a professional camera (so there’s a delay between shots), and that during that time, with all the onlookers, not one stepped forward. There were certainly enough people to at least try. But nobody did. Had he been less rattled from the fall, would he have been able to jump a little higher, pull a little stronger, and survive? Had one person grabbed his hand – just one person reached out to him – would it have been the boost he needed to reach safety?
These are questions we’ll never know answers to. In the moments following, a 2nd-year med school resident tried to resuscitate Han to no avail. People, suddenly materializing again after their noted absence when it counted, took pictures and videos with their cell phones. Han remained unresponsive. God wept. The devil danced.
Later, though, God prevailed again. 20-yr-old Ashley, in shock mourning her father, showed an immeasurable amount of grace towards everybody on that platform. She forgave them. Her father was essentially killed by lack of response from others, and she forgave them. That is saying something – when my roommate and I were out and about a few months ago, we were pickpocketed. The two of us – a man in a wheelchair and a woman – were in a diner full of other grown men and not a single one stopped to help us. It was almost a violated feeling, to be honest – everyone looking and nobody helping. I remember how shocked I was and momentarily angry that nobody came to our aide, and that was a simple matter of bus fare. To lose the life of a family member and be forgiving? I don’t know where this girl is at spiritually, but God was definitely in her that day because that level of grace blows mine right out of the water.
I pray over this situation. I pray for Han’s family as they face the inevitable grief and anger that will come as the shock wears off. I pray for surely-traumatized onlookers. I pray for the doctor – and the photographer – who tried to help in what limited capacities they could. I pray for Davis, now in jail, as he lives with a murder on his hands. There doesn’t seem a way that God can move in this situation. But our God is the God of salvation – of impossible, miraculous things. If God is anything, He is love. And He is able. And today I put my trust in that and pray that He moves in each and every person involved in this incident. Even though there was no miracle witnessed, I pray that they would realize who God is. I pray they would come to embrace their own salvation and realize that God is stronger than even this. I praise Him that He is.
God bless and please join me in prayer over everyone involved in this tragedy.