Dashrath Manjhi did not want to be famous. In fact, if given the chance, he never would have chosen the circumstances that made him so. However, his life changed the lives of countless others.
Manjhi was born in 1934 and grew up in a poor labourer family in Gahlour village near Gaya in Bihar, India. Soon after his marriage, his wife became ill. The nearest doctor was located in village that was 70 kilometres away, but before he got her there, she died. Not wanting others to suffer the same fate as his wife, Manjhi spent the next 22 years (from 1960 to 1982) digging a road through the mountain that separated his village from others.
His 360-foot-long, 25-foot-deep and 30-foot-wide “through-cut” reduced the distance between the villages from 70 kilometers to one. The efforts of “Mountain Man” (as he came to be known) impacted so many that when he died in 2007 he was honoured with a state funeral.
There is a time coming when, “The dwelling of God [will be] with men, and he will live with them… He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). However, that time is not here yet. Unfortunately, we still live in a world marred by sin and, seemingly, full of crying, pain and disappointment. That being the case, the question becomes, “What will you do when faced with trouble?”
Some allow the pain of this life to make them bitter. They turn inward and focus on how “unfairly” things have turned out. That is a natural response and it is understandable. Others, though, like Dashrath Manjhi, are able to turn their tragedy into something good and positive.
This takes a lot more maturity (both personal and spiritual) and it is often beyond where I live, but if we can turn outward, if we can think not only about ourselves but others, then some amazing things can happen.
In Romans 5:3-5, the apostle Paul says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
If we can find God’s hope, even in the midst of our own suffering, then we can share that hope with others and we can make this imperfect world just a little better.