Saturday, April 30, 2016

~She awoke to the small whimpers of her daughter. The room was crowded with other people as she began to roll up her mat, collect her few belongings in a bag, and wake her daughter. Even in the early morning hours, the heat was threatening to make the day intolerable, the flies gathered around her eyes, and the demands of finding food, water, shelter, and safety for one more day were before her. It was at the almost quiet moments like this that she missed her husband the most. She missed having someone to help carry the load of their escape from the war torn region. She missed his arms. She missed his company. She missed his strength and smile. But, she did not have time to mourn him. Nor could she indulge those thoughts as they always ended up leading down the path of those last awful moments together before he was taken and murdered. His last act was one of sacrifice as he offered himself as a diversion for her and their child to escape. They left with only a few things that she could grab in the fear of flight. No, no time for grief. They must move. They must try to find a place to settle. They must find food. The small provisions that they had scrounged for, were barely enough to sustain life and she knew the noises coming from her daughter’s direction were hunger pains. Anisa was just a child, but her childhood had been murdered. She rarely cried over anything. She seemed to be numb and frightened. She was alert and tired. She was too fearful to ever complain. She was simply beaten. At seven years old, she had the life experiences of a soldier, an orphan, a homeless person. Her eyes had looked upon the gruesome leavings of war, poverty, and the depravity of humanity. Her mother wondered what type of life she would have. What would her future look like? Was there a future? Not if they did not find food and water. She packed up their belongings: a blanket, random clothes, a bible and one picture of their family together in front of their home, in a bag that she carried on her back. She turned her face to the struggle for survival that she called day. 

~Far away, in a land of dreams fulfilled, awoke another mom when she heard the alarm clock. She rolled over and turned the snooze on her alarm. Then she snuggled back in to the warm, snuggly covers. She was not ready to meet the day. The children still asleep, gave her time to sleep more. The bed was intoxicatingly inviting with its comforts as she rolled over and shaded her eyes from the light of the coming day. It seemed like an hour, maybe it was an hour, later that she finally roused herself to get out of bed. She went into the kitchen and her coffee was waiting, having been made on time by the coffee maker settings. She rambled to a comfy chair where she sat and decided what she wanted for breakfast. Any number of the options could be considered veritable feasts by millions of people around the world who starve or live on little rations. After filling herself with food and coffee she wandered in to turn on the tv. She watched the news, then changed the channel. Too many depressing things being reported and she did not want to hear it. Her kids still slept or at least had not gotten out of bed yet. They might be laying in bed playing on their Ipads. She thought of all the things she had to do that day as she sat lazily on the couch. Another cup of coffee was needed to help motivate her. She moved to take a long, hot shower and then took her time as she moisterized, lotioned, plucked, painted, and applied various products. The sun was high in the sky, beaconing afternoon when she was ready to face the day. It looked hot outside, but she was in comfort with the ac set at 68. She finally saw the evidence of a child awake and went to talk with the sluggish one. She was met with complaints of too much to do, too many activities and how overwhelming life was. Oh, the drama. She decided to go take her prozac as she couldn’t face the stress. 

These two windows of vastly different lives which exist on the same planet, at the same time, are fictional. Fictional, but pulled from the blanket of reality with strands that ring true. It is true that there is suffering of such a magnitude that is oppressingly heartbreaking. It is true that there are many in the United States of America who live a life of such comfort and ease that they invent things to be wrong and over medicate themselves to deal with life. In one case, there is true suffering. In the other, there is only sinful, self indulgence and blindness. Spoiled people. People who think they need a "safe place" when threatened by dialogue. It seems pitiful in light of true suffering. 

I have been challenged in my life to try not complain by the lives of others. One is a lady in Haiti who has only one normal leg. Yet, she can climb faster than you can walk and she with joy takes care of the burdens of her family in their poverty. I have never heard her complain. Even when she faces hungry children and hard labor she carries herself with a joyful countenance. Second, is the recent reading of the book The Kite Runner. The fictional story hit a chord with me particularly when he said, “In Afghanistan there are many children, but little childhood.” It is so sad to think about the war torn regions and the struggle to survive and cope with devastation. We live in a day where it is more than Afghanistan that is war torn. ISIS destroys in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and other countries. There is so much other struggling though in Africa, Haiti, North Korea, China, etc. It is easy to forget that we are so blessed and it is far too easy for us to complain. 

We live in a prosperous nation. We know little of want or war. We have pills for our pain and comforts for all that ails us. We don't witness children destroyed by rape, but we watch it as entertainment on TV. We have abundant provision of food and water and live in luxury. Rarely are we as people trying to put our lives back together and move on when there is nothing. Nothing. We don't understand the idea of having nothing in the vastness of this country's wealth. 

We should be thankful people. We should remember that each day we wake and do not lift our eyes in Hell is a blessing. No matter what struggle greets us in that day, it is a day of grace and blessing. As Christians, we have promises and the love of a Savior who ever lives to make intercession for us. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us too with deep utterings beyond words and God the Father loves us and shepherds us. 

If you are grumbling today I would admonish you to repent. Repent of thinking you deserve better. Repent of ingratitude. Repent of not thinking of others. Speak the truth to yourself that even in your worst situations, you do not have what you deserve. 

Psalm 107
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the LORD,
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the watersc were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

He turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste,
because of the evil of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
And there he lets the hungry dwell,
and they establish a city to live in;
they sow fields and plant vineyards
and get a fruitful yield.
By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their livestock diminish.

When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
he pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
but he raises up the needy out of affliction
and makes their families like flocks.
The upright see it and are glad,
and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.