Monday, July 7, 2014

Shocking and Disturbing

            I’ve had this happen a couple times, and it never ceases to shock and disturb me.  I was watching a program on television that showed video footage from World War II and from areas in Africa where people were starving to death.  Bodies in the street, emaciated adults and children, children so skinny that they could barely hold their heads up, heart-broken looks on mother’s faces.  One starving child was chewing a piece of bread, and the way he chewed and reached for a glass of water reminded me so much of my own child that it broke my heart.  And I had to change the channel.
            But what I found on the other channels was even more shocking and disturbing than the heart-breaking footage of children dying of starvation and the ravages of war:  frivolousness, immorality, greed, excessive materialism, so much money wasted on stupid, mindless entertainment for us greedy, self-centered, entertainment-oriented Americans.  Ads about how “we deserve” whatever we want.  Promises of happiness if we buy bigger and better things.  Skimpier clothing, more makeup, fancier trinkets to wear.  Shows about all kinds of ungodly, demented stuff to tickle our fancy.  An abundance of nice restaurants to dine at, along with an abundance of food readily available at any store.
            It was a shock to my system, to turn from heart-wrenching images of what’s gone on (and going on) in other parts of the world to what’s important in America.  I was so disgusted and disheartened that I had to turn the television off. 

            And as I laid there in the silence, I thought about how I had just gone grocery shopping and filled our cabinets with food, and how I was lying in a comfortable bed under a good, solid roof, and how my healthy, well-fed kids were enjoying a movie with daddy in the other room, and how my main concerns are so minor compared to other people’s concerns . . . and I was so humbled to be so blessed. 
            Why was I born in America, where even those of us who don’t have much have way more than the rest of the world?  Why was I given healthy kids when other mothers around the world (and in our own country, too) have to watch their children die slowly, way before their time?  Why are we so materialistic and entertainment-oriented when there are so many needy people around the world?  Why does God not just come back now and put an end to all this misery?
            We spend thousands to millions of dollars on producing one movie, when many children around the world are crying out for one bowl of rice a day.  We are so concerned with making our own homes bigger, fancier, prettier, and yet we fail to see the hurting souls around us that are in need of encouragement, a loving word, a helping hand.  And instead of being thankful in America and showing our thankfulness by glorifying and honoring God, we are getting more and more morally-bankrupt, deliberately and rebelliously flaunting that which is ungodly.  It’s shocking and disturbing.
            As I was lying on the bed – my heart breaking as I imagined my son in that starving child’s position – I couldn’t help but think, What can I do?
            What can I do about it, Lord?  I am just one person? 
            Honestly, what can we do?  How can we help?  While it would be wonderful for all of us in America to band together and give the money we spend on entertainment alone to helping those in need, it’s just not realistic.  But what is realistic?
            Sadly enough, evil will continue until God puts an end to this world, so we cannot stop bad things from happening.  (And oh, how I pray that Jesus returns soon!)  But we can pray.  At the very least (and at the very most), we can remember to pray for the hurting, starving, persecuted, war-ravaged people around the world.
            But there is more than that.  As I thought about the images of starving people, I couldn’t help but think of it as a metaphor for the souls of people all around us.  Starving, malnourished, dying souls.  This life is so temporary, the pleasures so fleeting.  And however we die – starvation, illness, old age – all of us will end up standing before our Maker.  And we will face the result of our decision about Him, about Jesus.  If we chose Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and joined God’s Team, then we will spend eternity with Him.  But if we chose to stay on Not God’s Team (the team we are all born on) then we will get what we wanted - a life (and eternity) apart from Him.
            I can’t help but thinking of all the lost people around me as starving, dying souls, people who don’t even realize or care that they are spiritually-starved, spiritually-malnourished, or spiritually-dead.  But what can I do about it?
            What I can do – what we can do – is humble ourselves before the Lord and seek His Kingdom and His righteousness above all so that others may see something different in us.  Something desirable.  Something deeply soul-satisfying.  Something that they want more of.  How can they hunger for what we have if we look and act just like the world, if we have the same priorities that the world does? 
            We cannot force people to change, but we can be light and salt to them, illuminating God’s truth and love and healing and giving them a taste of something that really satisfies and that makes them want more. 
            How I wish I could pray that all children were fed, that all wars ceased, that all lands became fertile for sustaining life, that all evil ended.  But that’s not the way this fallen world works.  But I can continue to support a child through Compassion International and to support missionaries and charities.  I can pray for other countries and for hurting, needy people.  I can offer help and support and encouragement to those I come into contact with.  I can speak out against (and not financially support) the morally-degraded filth our country produces and the ungodly values and priorities we uphold and pursue.  I can stop whining about all the things I don’t have and live in thankfulness for the things I do have, sharing those blessings with others as much as I can and being a “living sacrifice” for Him.  And most important, I can remember that the starving souls around me are in just as much need (and even more need) than the hurting bodies. 
            All of us will die someday, but our souls will live forever in one place or the other.  And it is the duty of every Christian to live in such a way that they bring glory to God, encourage others, live out Christ’s love and truth, and create in others a hunger for the only One who can bring life to our dying souls, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Pray that the eyes of the lost are opened and that their hearts are softened.  Pray for God’s protection around them so that they have a chance to see the truth without interference from evil.  Pray that God continues to put His truth in their path.  Pray for opportunities to share your hope and your faith.    
            Are you living for the temporary or living for eternity?  Where are your rewards?  And how many people are spiritually-fed because of you and your example?  It’s something for all of us to think about, especially in a country as blessed as America.