Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010: It's Not Fair

If you are a parent you have more than likely heard the phrase "it's not fair" from your children. If they are anything like our kids you've probably heard it in the last week!

I could easily say "it's not fair!" with all we have gone through the past three years. I’m sure I have said it many times already. After reading the book The Hole in our Gospel though, I have an entirely different perspective of fairness. Life is not fair in many countries and some places it is just downright awful. We've all seen the pictures of the starving children on tv asking for our help. I'll be honest - I have to change the channel because it tears my heart apart to see that.

I can't believe how easy it is for us to "look the other way". The book is filled with statistics that were shocking to me. Did you know that if you make more than $50,000 per year you make more than 99% of the people in the world? I realize I may sound naive but I had no idea of the level of poverty in the world.

The book also has personal stories that made me sick to my stomach to read. I was heartbroken for them and so angry that things like that could happen in our world. This book has made me realize that not only to I need to do more ~ it is my responsibility to do more.

I have noticed little things lately in life. As I stood in the shower the other day I was watching all the water going down the drain. There are people (quite often children) that have to walk miles every day just go get water or even worse, the only water that they have access to is contaminated. To compare it in Holland terms - it would be like drinking the water in Lake Macatawa (or Lake Macatoilet as we to call it). As I throw away yet another container of leftovers that has turned into a science experiment on how quickly mold can grow I think of the children that go a week without eating.

I was shoveling the heavy wet snow from the end of our driveway a few days ago and was thinking about how much work it was and that I didn't think I would be able to finish when I had the thought - there are children that do physical labor harder than this all day every day! And they don’t go inside when they are done to take some ibuprofen, make something warm to drink and then sit with their feet up.

I tend to get overwhelmed with big problems. I can only see the "big picture" sometimes and figure that the small contribution that I could do wouldn't make a difference so I don't do anything. A parable was told in the book about a man who came across tens of thousands of starfish that had been washed up on the beach. He realized that they would all die and in despair he sat down in the sand holding his head in his hands. As he looked up he saw a man in the distance that was throwing the starfish back into the ocean one by one. He went over to ask him what he was doing to which the man replied "saving the starfish". The overwhelmed man said "don't you see - there are tens of thousands of starfish - nothing you do will make a difference". The man didn't respond but simply bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it in the lake. He then smiled at the man saying "it made a difference to that one"

I have been praying recently that I would be able to learn how to be content in all situations. The stories that I read have given me a huge appreciation for what we do have. Even on our worst days here it is still a walk in the park compared to the horrible things that go on in our world. Dealing with cancer stinks big time but we have doctors to take care of us and insurance to help pay for it. When our basement flooded last year I was so frustrated and thought “what else can go wrong?” but in reality our unfinished basement with a cement floor, trim pulled off and drywall soft enough to poke a hole through it is still bigger and safer than the “houses” so many people in far away countries live in. And that is only one floor of our house!

If you haven’t read the book A Hole in our Gospel I would highly recommend it. It doesn’t hold anything back and there are stories that will make you sick but it will also give you hope. It will change your perspective on life and help you realize just how fortunate we are. It will make you want to make a difference.

On Valentine’s Day three years ago I wrote these words:

Together with all of us (and we are a mighty team!) praying boldly we will all win this battle and it is going to change all of us. I have seen amazing changes in many people close to me and have heard of many others. God is working through me and through all of you and together we are going to turn many more sheep into God’s pasture! Isn’t that amazing! What an honor! I know together we can do it. Please hold everyone up in prayer and encourage them. I have never really been a very "open" person before but I am changing. It is so important to encourage one another as the bible says. Let God’s light beam through all of us and just imagine how bright this world will be!!!!

I believed that three years ago and I still believe it today.

On a completely separate note ~ I am going in later this afternoon for “films” which I believe is something like a ct scan and I will have this done once a week. We’ll have visual proof with this as we see the tumors get smaller and smaller! My radiation treatments start on Monday. I’m not exactly looking forward to it but in reality I am so fortunate to have access to such advanced technology. In other countries children watch their parents become very sick without so much as a doctor to help them. They take care of them until they pass away and then they become the head of the household. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like.

I'll end this post with a verse that was in the book that really got my attention~

And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You'll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you've piled up is judgment. All the workers you've exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You've looted the earth and lived it up. But all you'll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you've done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it. James 5:1-6 (The Message)