When the Hurt Seems to Win

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To listen to this reflection as a podcast, click here.
Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest who leads a special ministry.
The guy with the snowy beard in the picture above is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles – arguably the gang capital of the world. 
His remarkable book Tattoos on the Heart, in which he recounts story after story of life on the streets, should be rated R: 
For Real
And Raw
And Redemptive.
At the time of its 2010 publication he had participated in the funerals of 168 young men, every one the victim of gang violence.
Boyle tells about Soledad, whom he describes as one of the most heroic women he has ever known.  Soledad was the mother of four children.  That is, until her two oldest sons, who were trying to experience life beyond the Hood, were murdered by local gang members.
There were still grounds for joy in Soledad’s life.  But there was so much hurt.  She confided to Boyle: “The hurt wins…the hurt wins.” 
One night she was taken to the ER suffering chest pains.  Boyle picks up the story from there:
The doctors are tending to her with EKGs and the like, when there is a rush of activity at the entrance.  With a flurry of bodies and medical staff moving into their proscribed roles, a teenage gang member is rushed to the vacant space right next to Soledad.
The kid is covered in blood from multiple gunshot wounds, and they begin cutting off his clothes.
The wounds are too serious to waste time pulling the curtain that separates Soledad from this kid fighting for his life.  People are pounding his chest and inserting IVs.
Soledad turns and sees him.  She recognizes him as a kid from the gang that most certainly robbed her of her sons.
“As I saw this kid,” she tells me, “I just kept thinking of what my friends might say if they were here with me.  They’d say, ‘Pray that he dies.’”
But she just looked at this tiny kid, struggling to sidestep the fate of her sons, as the doctors work and scream, “WE’RE LOSING HIM.  WE’RE LOSING HIM.”
“And I began to cry as I have never cried before and start to pray the hardest I’ve ever prayed.  ‘Please…don’t…let him die.  I don’t want his mom to go through what I have.’”
And the kid lived. 
Boyle concludes, “Sometimes, it only seems that the hurt wins.”
Only love is strong enough to stand against the hurt is that left behind by bullets, hatred, and hopelessness.
And the only source of such extraordinary love is the One who is Love himself.