When we were younger, our mothers told us that we had to finish our dinner because there were starving children in China who didn’t have anything to eat. This morning I was wondering about that. Why China? Aren’t there more starving children in Uganda or Haiti? There are starving children in downtown Seattle.
It isn’t very convincing either. Will it really affect the children in China, Haiti, or downtown Seattle, if you eat all of your dinner? Probably not. But it got me thinking about the irony of being encouraged to eat more on the behalf of those who are starving.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the affluence of America.
Did you know that the U.S. is 5% of the world’s population, but we use 20% (1/5) of the world’s resources?
And did you know that Americans have 1.875 billion square feet of personal storage outside of there homes? That seems like a lot to fathom. Simply put, if you put every American next to each other (probably in the Midwest or some place where there is a lot of nothing), our storage space would cover the entire U.S. population.
And I bet it might surprise you that Americans spend more money on trash bags in a year, than most people in the world make in a year.
And Americans throw away 14% of their food, while in many countries food cannot be afforded at all. Americans have fat, bloated bellies because they eat too much, and around the world, people have bloated bellies from starvation.
My point of this is not just to make you feel bad. I want you to realize how blessed you are. Which brings me to another topic. Are we really blessed in America? God says “blessed are the…poor in spirit.. merciful.. those who mourn..” But you are blessed.
I grew up thinking that I didn’t have enough. My house was too small. I wore hand-me-down clothes. I didn’t have the coolest shoes, and I didn’t have the coolest cell phone (still don’t). We didn’t always pay bills on time. We were conditioned to not answer our phone when I was growing up because it was most often a bill collector. I remember one time when we had popcorn for dinner because there was no food to make. (Or maybe my mom just didn’t want to make dinner, though not having dinner happened sometimes too.)
Sometimes I still think that I don’t have it all. I still don’t have an iphone. I haven’t gone clothes shopping in months. I don’t have a car.
But which of these things will add a single day to my life? Which of these will make me more joyful, with a lasting joy? Which of these will bring me closer to God and allow me to love him more?
I want to say all of them. Because I feel like I need all of them. But I don’t.
The truth is, even when I thought I didn’t, I had too much stuff, and I have always had enough.
I’ve been thinking about this long and hard. Many days I cannot eat because when I look at all of the food I could be eating, I am sick just thinking about all those who cannot eat. I get to choose what I want to eat. I can eat until I am full, or more than full. And they try to keep busy, try to not think about their growling, aching tummies.
I cry out in confusion and frustration. My God, my God, why have I been given so much? I don’t want this. Take it away. I don’t need this.
But God reminds me, that I am who I am for a very specific purpose.
Why was I born in America? Why have I been given so much? Why does this burden me? I. don’t. know. But God does. And that needs to be enough for me too.
I cannot sit here any longer, in the midst of all my things, all of my affluence and “too much.” I cannot sit here, complacent. These things that I own — my collection of scarves, my too many clothes, my too many shoes, my too many blankets, and books, and dishes, and bags. It is too much.
I need to do something about this. I need to use my stuff for God’s stuff. These things have been burdening my heart for a while, and I do not believe God burdens hearts for the world without purpose. Papa, what next?
What is your heart burdened for, and what are you doing about it?