Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bigger Picture Moments: Does God Really Care about Social Justice?

I go for long stretches of days without remembering her until I slow down the pace of life enough that I actually take the time to see her beautiful face, framed with dimly blond hair against creamy-milk skin, staring at me as I wash dishes.

Last winter, she was out of school for a few weeks because of kidney problems likely due in part to lack of nutrition during cold and flu season. 

When I read in her letter that she'd been so sick, my heart flipped and skipped beats, praying for her full recovery. I asked her, via return letter, if she'd visited a doctor; and as I recall, she's never answered that directly.  

As I licked the envelope, sealing my words into it, my mind struggled to grasp, to understand the world in which our sponsored child lives. 

A world where missing school for weeks is a normal occurrence; a world where doctors aren't just a phone call, a visit, a copay away. 

When I think of her, when I pray for her, I pray for her protection. I pray that she would come to know His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness and redemption. I pray her needs would be met. 

But sometimes I find myself, in the midst of those prayers, asking God why. 

Why are children suffering? Why do parents have to struggle to provide for their families? Why, God, aren't you doing something about it? Don't you care about social justice?

This time of year especially  -- in the days leading up to the abundance of Thanksgiving and Christmas -- the questions brew and stir and become louder, barking in my need-saturated mind. Why? Where are you, God, in the midst of injustice?

But also, where am I? Where is my mind and heart?

We sat together, John and I, within the four walls of a building constructed of love and provision. 

We call it our church, but more it is more than a building. It's a place, for me, of deep-seeded community and growth and heart. It's a place I'm often challenged to be more the person I was created to be, a place where I'm challenged to decrease as He increases in me.

When Christy Davis, our World Outreach director, began sharing her heart during a co-led sermon with our lead pastor, she voiced her struggle with coming home to celebrate Thanksgiving with an enormous spread in a cozy, warm house after returning from a trip where memories of devastating poverty is reality for many of the faces she'd only previously saw on TV.

Her heart, too, cried out to God asking where on Earth He was? Why wasn't He there?

Why wasn't He providing for the third of the children who will die of malnutrition before their fifth birthdays?

Why wasn't He giving families to the 145 million children who have lost one or both parents?

She described how these numbers now had faces she'd seen, bodies she'd hugged and how the reality of such extreme injustice rocked her world and relationship with God.

So she went to the Word to find out if God actually cares about those souls who live on next to nothing.

And she saw God's heart:

"Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. Psalm 41:1

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he, too, will cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:13

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his neighbor in need and has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? ... Let us not love with our words or tongues but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17

As she read the verses aloud, I half recited them with her. My heart finds deep joy in giving, and my soul is stirred with empathy for anyone suffering. I've noted these verses before and found comfort in the tears I've shed for the suffering, the hungry, the needy, the desperate because God's heart really is for the least of these. And I finally found resolution to the question I, too, had been asking.

Is God really into social justice? Yes, of course!

The real question is: 

Am I? Are you? Are we? 

Do we really care about social justice?

The answers seems to be yes among the church. Dr. Scott Todd, a board director for Compassion International, shared that today the global poverty rate is HALF of what it was in 1981.

People are stepping up to the plate. They are sponsoring children, giving. But the need is great yet.

Christy shared that if Evangelicals alone simply gave 10 percent of what they earned, extreme poverty could be eradicated -- totally and completely.

Everything in my body wanted to shout yes! -- my family was doing its part.

But with knowing that the need is still so great, with knowing that there are still lives that are slipping away for lack of nutrition and health care and with knowing that I still have money left to take a trip to the coffee shop, I couldn't say yes emphatically, yes, totally. Especially after Christy shared one powerful truth:

"We must live simply so that others can simply live."

So do I? Do you? Do we?

Because I think that's actually what answers the real, burning question. 

{This week I am thankful to find rest and growth among a body of believers who seek to carry out the mission of Jesus -- to give hope and redemption to a hurting world.}
During the month of November, we are gathering our harvest of blessings and naming them one by one, sharing the gratitude in our hearts. Won't you join us? Share a picture, words, creation or list; just come to the table with thanksgiving in your heart. 

Reflect on the blessings that were apparent to you this week.

Harvest them!

Link up your moment at Alita's this week. Please be sure to link to your post, not your blog. Your post must link back here or have our button in your post or the link will be deleted.

Try to visit at least the person linked before you and encourage her in this journey we call life.