“But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to You…” Jonah 2:9a NIV
“Finish your soup! There are starving children in China who would love to have it.”
Sitting at my grandparent’s table with my sister and two cousins, we glared at the bowls of tomato soup in front of us. Glancing at one another- agreeing by the rolling of four sets of eyes, that we were MORE than willing to ship our foul soup off to China.
I appreciate the values my depression-era grandparents instilled in us (and what I wouldn’t give to be sitting at a table with them again).
Unfortunately though, picturing poor Chinese kids didn’t help me desire my soup.
But it led me to muse over my own good fortune, wrestle with feelings of guilt, and write out questions in my pink Barbie diary (it even had a lock and key).
Why did God allow me to live in the USA?
Why wasn’t I one of the starving children in China? Why was I born… ME?
As I child, I didn’t exude gratefulness. Sure I had my moments, but I was a typical upper-middle-class American kid. Every need provided for, loved dearly, yet entitled. I never saw or met a truly poor child until well into adolescence.
During my adult life, I’ve had opportunities to see poor children- living in dumps and begging in the streets. I have met homeless orphans. I’ve been with children of Mexican prisoners living in boxes next to the prison. Precious kids needing a bowl of tomato soup and oh so much more.
Because of these experiences and by God’s grace, I have grown into a grateful woman (most of the time).
Yet I struggle.
I can’t find the right place for my soul to land. I bounce back and forth between feelings of utter gratefulness, then to guilt.
Guilt for all that I have (stuff, family, friends, etc.), Guilt because I am who I am and live where I do. Guilt because I don’t give enough to those who are hurting, lost and hungry. Guilt for being materialistically enslaved.
I’ve added adult questions to the ones in my girlhood diary…
How do I help everyone I want to help- there are masses of needy people in this world?
Will there be enough to pay our bills? How do I resolve my guilt? How do I battle with materialism and come out semi-victorious?
“And He answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.‘” Luke 3:11
We can find hundreds of verses in scripture inspiring us to give with an open hand.
With the holiday season barreling in, there are oodles and oodles of charities asking for donations.
Maybe you are like me- desiring to give wholeheartedly, feeling grateful for all you have, and yet holding your tomato soup out to God in a partially open hand?
Is guilt sprinkled on top of your soup like it is on mine?
Ponder a few points with me, will you?
God is sovereign. God is love. God is the Provider. His ways are not our ways and our wrestling needs to end with Him- end in trusting Him. Honestly telling Him we want to trust Him, and are scared and do not understand why things are as they are.
Reconcile the fact that our “war” with materialism might not end on this side of eternity. However, we can continually release- making room for Him to fill us, instead of earthly goods.
Take small steps in faith remembering point #1. Trust. Trust. Trust. I have been given MUCH, so I strive (by His grace)
to give much! Ask Him to help.
We can’t give to the entire world. We just can’t. We can choose charities that particularly touch our hearts. Our favorites during the holiday season are: Operation Christmas child, World Vision. Angel Tree, and our local Rescue Mission.
- I am learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable! Do you think our God wants us to wrestle with hard questions? Pray through our convictions? Come to Him with our guilt? This is how He increases our faith and gives us a yearning for Heaven.
Join me- seeking to trust Him as He opens our partially-closed hands.
In between the guilt and gratefulness is GRACE. God’s breathtakingly-beautiful PARADOX OF GRACE.
Now I’m off to eat a bowl of tomato soup. J
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa