America. Land of opportunity. Land of plenty.
America. Land of excess. Land of consumption.
I am an American. I love my country, very grateful for the endless opportunities before me. I am blessed with an education, freedom, and unlimited earning potential. I am blessed with a home and a car and a job and grocery stores with more food than we could ever consume.
There’s a restaurant on every corner. Unlimited fast-food where I don’t even have to get out of my car to place or receive my order. Coffee shops where you can get a wide variety of overpriced drinks (unless, like me, you can’t stand the taste of coffee). Snacks at every turn.
I am blessed with a house, fairly new, with heat and air and indoor plumbing. We have a fenced yard where the dogs can run and play. All four of us have our own bedrooms and we have two bathrooms (the boys are banned from the girl bathroom because boys are messy!!). I have a closet the size of a small room filled with clothes, many of which I haven’t worn in years.
And yet, I find myself stressed over finances. I have a good job making good money, and yet there’s rarely enough to stretch from paycheck to paycheck. I don’t spend extravagantly by any means. But, I have two teen boys and a pre-teen girl, all of whom are out-growing their clothes faster than I can keep up. I am constantly putting gas in my car (an economy car) to keep up with our endless activities. My garage door opener broke recently, and I need $300 to replace it. Christmas is around the corner, and I am trying to figure out how to make Christmas special for my kids.
Surviving as a single parent in America is tough…
And yet this week, I was brought to my knees, reminded just how blessed I am. I received a Facebook message from a pastor in Uganda simply asking me for prayer. He has shared his story with me, a story of poverty and loss. A story of redemption. A story of God’s faithfulness. A story of being touched by me, a single mom on the other side of the world.
This pastor frequently reminds me he is praying for me and the ministry God is doing through me. He tells me how I am on his church’s prayer list, how they pray daily for me and my kids. I see his posts about trusting God to provide for his little church.
And on this day, he simply asked me to pray for him. I pressed him a little, asking for some details. What exactly did he need? What specific prayer requests did he have?
“Please pray God will provide rent money and food for my family.”
Oh, how my heart broke. Oh, how I was brought to my knees. Oh, how I was horrified by my own indifference.
I sit at my computer and write. I lose myself in words, in sharing the messages God lays on my heart. I get so wrapped up in the tasks he has laid out before me. I want to pray for each and every person who has ever read my blog, who has poured out their hearts to me. But I can’t possibly do that on a daily basis.
And sometimes I lose myself to indifference about those who write me, who reach out to me.
God used this faithful pastor on the other side of the world to humble me, to open my eyes to the ingratitude in my life. He used this man to remind me how blessed I am. He reminded me of the many blessings right here in my life, of how I need to be falling at the feet of my Savior daily thanking him for the overwhelming opportunities I have.
He reminded me of the suffering around the globe, of those who are trusting God just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. He reminded me that my idea of “walking by faith” pales in comparison to what it means to truly “walk by faith.” He reminded me that my heart should break for those who are suffering around the world.
And so, as we in America sit down to feast over Thanksgiving meals this week, I simply ask you to remember my friend in prayer. Ask God to open the storerooms of heaven and pour out blessings on this man, his family, and his church. Support organizations on the ground in countries around the globe, organizations meeting practical needs of those who are suffering. Listen to the Father as he directs you to give, to be the hands and feet of Christ.
May we all learn from our brothers and sisters around the world, those who trust God to provide their daily bread. May we learn from them the true meaning of walking by faith and not by sight. May we learn the secret of being content in any and every situation even as they have. And may we never take for granted the blessings God has given each of us.
As you pause to enjoy your Thanksgiving this week, let’s really take time to understand exactly how blessed we are.