Thursday, November 14, 2013

When Breakfast Brings A Burden: How Can I Eat When Others Are In Desperate Need?

With the devastation in the Philippines from Super Typhoon Haiyan we are all reminded of how much we have to be thankful for.  Personally I am often overwhelmed with emotion with thoughts of it and the bombardment via news media can be crushing. Overwhelming too is trying to comprehend the scope of what it must be like for them which from all accounts is far worse than our technology is able to allow us to see.  And I know probably think about it too much in my empathy. Lately I am finding my self trying to work out what I should or could do with the knowledge I have of the need. But have no idea what to that is just so big! Where does one start when the need is so great and helplessness is reality?

As I made myself a bowl of hot cereal this morning, the suffering souls in the Philippines crossed my mind again. The stark contrast of my blessings and their need gave me pause and I stopped to give thanks to God for this most basic of supply and asked for His help for those suffering...but the experience didn't stop there for me like it usually does.

Facebook timeline post November 14, 2013:  "Day 14 - thankfulness - I am thankful for the simplest most basic supply of food and water which today became so much more."

As I took that first spoonful of hot cereal into my mouth I found I could not get it down when a wave of emotion laden thought of those in desperate need came over me; my heart was overwhelmed.  I struggled with the feeling of being so blessed to have food and water in abundance and not knowing what if anything I could do to help these suffering souls.  It was not guilt but true compassion and it was a strange dichotomy of emotion, this feeling of being blessed but feeling so utterly helpless and wanting so badly to help.

The blessing of supply God has given me in juxtaposition of the need of others surprised me sending my heart to my throat, effectively closing off my ability to swallow for that one moment.  It was just long enough to make me ask, "How could I eat when others had none?"  Like so many of us I am wanting to put my hand to some work that will make a difference in times of tragedy like this.  I want to help my neighbor, to be a part of meeting their need.

As I began to partake of this simple supply of food it suddenly transformed and became not only sustenance for my body, but a catalyst in my heart for wanting to serve.  I took that first swallow and before I could eat more and with every bite it seemed I was praying for how I might help, praying for guidance and discernment beyond the blinding emotions of sorrow for their struggle.   I must remind myself to not take up a fools mission in the strong emotional bath I so often find myself in when I consider the gravity of the suffering of others, it will lead to little good.  My obedience to God's will is what will accomplish what is best and accomplish the most possible good, as it does in all I wait and pray.

As I considered the great need for food and water in the Philippines I was also reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6 urging me again to not worry, not just for my own need this time, but for the great need of this myriad of hungry thirsty others in the world, especially in the Philippines.  So I will wait for His direction and ready myself to serve, whatever that is.  If His direction is only to pray I will be glad, as prayer is the currency of Heaven.  And as I pray I will remember that once centuries ago a widow gathered empty jars which God filled with oil to meet the needs of her and her son, and on the hillside after Jesus spoke, thousands were fed when God multiplied a pitiful amount of bread and fish and everyone went away satisfied.  All of this happened when people were obedient to God's direction and these are only two of many accounts.  I know it doesn't always turn out with miracle provision, but it does give me hope and an understanding of the character and capability of God to meet any need.

Matthew 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
So I give thanks for this simplest of supplies and ask God to help me take on His compassion that will, as He wills, bring aid to others. 

Every act, every prayer, chips away at the mountainous need before us. Lord help us help the suffering. ~Patty Hicks~

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