We’ve all heard it said, “When it rains, it pours.” We’ve probably all said it when things keep going wrong at an alarming rate. I said it last week. One car with a dead battery, one car with a bulging back tire, one with a sudden onset of grinding brakes and a whining sound that makes me a little nervous that it was getting ready to blow up.
And then my furnace quit. I live in Northeast Indiana. It’s winter. It’s cold. So much for good timing. I had a moment of intense self-pity. “I don’t know how to fix either of these things! Why do these things always happen all at once? Why do they always happen to me? Why is everything so expensive?” Quickly though it was time to move on. Time to remind myself of something I have seen and learned in a new way. These problems have solutions. These problems do not keep me from being able to care for the needs of my family. These problems won’t last forever. These problems are only problems because I am so used to a problem-free life. At least problem free as is pertains to the day-to-day necessities.
My friends in Haiti do not have that same perspective. They have problems are not caused by being accustomed to having everything they need. They have problems that do not have solutions.
They have problems that keep them from being able to provide for their families. They have problems that they didn’t cause. Humbling to say the least.
When I first had my eyes opened to this reality I went through a period of feeling guilty even thinking that I had problems. I went through a stage of feeling bad that my problems often came as a result of my excess. For example, I wouldn’t have a problem with three cars at one time if I didn’t have three cars. I tell myself that surely this is excessive. My friends don’t have three meals a day, let alone three vehicles to break at one time. But, my guilt doesn’t help. Not me or my friends. So… what will? Well, helping me is easier so I’ll start there. I will always have more than my friends in the third-world. That’s just the truth. It’s also the truth that me not having any thing doesn’t help them have what they need. But if I keep myself committed to having what I NEED instead of everything I WANT I can make sure to be keeping room in my budget to do things that help. But, if I just keep room in my budget but never actually give what I’m saving there is nothing gained. So I have to open my eyes, my heart, and my pocket-book. I have to be willing to open my eyes to things that make me uncomfortable. I have to open my heart to people and circumstances that will break it. I have to keep it open even through it prompts a conviction like nothing I’ve ever felt. It keeps me up at night. It forces me to action. Then I have to keep my pocket-book open by finding trustworthy, practical, relational and sustainable ways to give. I’ll say it again, my guilt won’t help. But, my conviction that leads to intentional giving will.
I don’t have to solve all of the problems that my friends in Haiti have. Thank God, because I can’t. But lots of times we are tempted to do nothing because we can’t do everything. It can feel overwhelming. On my most recent trip to Haiti a wise friend who was feeling the same had this to say, “Do what you can.” It doesn’t always seem like enough, but it truly is all I can do. So I will.