Dear God, as our nice, crisp American society here in Texas has crumbled to some extent this week–millions without power in sub-freezing temperatures, indoor plumbing ceasing to work, grocery stores either empty due to resupply trucks not being able to run or employees not being able to arrive to open up–it’s made me think about societies that truly live in even worse conditions all of the time.
Haiti, for example. Puerto Rico after the hurricane a couple of years ago. In those areas, organized crime is high, as is petty crime. The privileged live in compounds with private security guards while the commoners are left to fend for themselves. Every day is a day of waking up wondering if you will be able to meet the most basic of human needs. Food. Water. Shelter. And if I find those things, will I be able to provide them to my family, or will they be taken from me through either organized for petty crime? The inability to defend my family or depend on the authorities to defend me would be unbelievably hard.
Then there are the stories you read in the Bible about a king laying siege to a city. One of the strategies was to surround the city and cut off their supplies. It’s a tactic still used today because it is very powerful. As I saw the food disappear from our own grocery stores and their inability to restock because the trucks couldn’t get through, it made me think of these situations as well. You can have all of the numbers of people you want, but they must be supplied with life-sustaining materials in order to function. What if those supplies are cut off?
And now there will still be thousands in my county alone who will likely be without power for the next week to two weeks. The weather will get warmer so it will be easier to be in their unheated homes, but there are still all kinds of problems to address with no electricity. And then there are the broken pipes. It will be very hard.
Father, there is a movie called Say Anything. In it, the main character, Lloyd Dobbler says a line that I’ve always liked: “I don’t know. But I know that I don’t know.” There are so many things to which I simply cannot relate. I cannot relate to being raised in deep, multigenerational poverty. I cannot relate to not knowing where my next meal will come from. I cannot relate to not feeling like I can physically protect my family. I cannot relate to not feeling like the police or the military are on my side. I cannot relate to being sexually violated. There is so much that I do not know, and I’m grateful to not know it (although I’m sure I take it for granted). But I think the good news is that I know that I don’t know. I know that someone motivated to travel hundreds or thousands of miles on foot or in incredibly uncomfortable conditions to illegally cross an international border only to end up in indentured servitude has experienced things I can’t even imagine. I know that someone who saw her mother stab her father and has no role models in her life might grow up to get pregnant early just to have someone who will love her. I know that someone who cannot provide for his family might be motivated to do whatever he can, including selling drugs, in order to get money to provide. I know that someone who lives in a slum might take their tax refund and, while it is too little to improve their living conditions, it might swing a 60″ 4K TV so that’s how they will use the money. I know that a parent, out of desperation or exhaustion or fear, might make a parenting decision I think I would never make. I don’t know what it’s like to be in these situations (well, maybe I’ve been in at least one of them), but I know that I don’t know. So I cannot solve all of this. I cannot solve the problems of everyone who is suffering in my city, my county, my state, my country, or my world today. I can’t do it. But I can try to solve a least a couple of problems for someone else. So help me to do that today. Help me to do it well and selflessly. And bring your presence into the world for those I help in your name and your power. And raise up others as well as we work together. Use this as a uniting opportunity. Make this pain and suffering count for your glory. Don’t let it be wasted.
In Jesus’s name I pray,