I found myself reading and pondering when Jesus fed the five thousand. Jesus was always concerned with the most basic of needs – rest, food, water, and spiritual life. He didn’t necessarily give the one without the other; He understood if people are cold, wet, tired, hungry, and traumatized, that their physical bodies had needs to be met. He understood that a captive audience sometimes meant that you have to remove the distractions of a hungry belly, a thirst parched mouth, or a weary body.
It was not a new concept to the Christian Scriptures (New Testament), we read about caring for the poor, homeless and hungry throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) as well. The Prophet Isaiah wrote,
“Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” (TLB, Isaiah 58:10-11)
I can’t help but think about all of my friends and acquaintances who are setting aside the comforts and abundance of a U.S Thanksgiving meal to serve in the Philippines. I would like to be there with them; I am raising funds to do so; I am raising funds to aid for the Filipinos. All in God’s time. People are hurting, suffering, hungry, injured. They have lost everything including the lives of so many loved ones. A nation forever changed. Again. Many are living by a thread – a mental thread as well as physical one. I was reminded of my friends in Haiti when I heard a Filipino man who had lost his wife, and all but one child, say, “If not for this one, I would kill myself.” My friends in Haiti repeatedly stated, “What good is food and water when you don’t want to live anymore.” They need the love of Jesus in the actions of food and water; but they need psychological and spiritual care as well. They need a light that shines in the darkness as bright as the day.
Isaiah said it – if we want out lights to shine, if we we want to continue in “good things” we need to continue to be the light of the nations that shines in the darkness. Our lights are being diminished by many country club churches that are filled more with programs and happy customers than with suffering servants. We are so rich in this country, so blessed. We have been watered for righteousness since our foundation, but what used to be the churches responsibility to care for the poor has become the governments. And it is done from a Humanistic point of view, not a biblical one.
What if…what if…being a “well watered” and satisfied with “good things,” is simply as a result of serving others in our need and not our abundance? What if our “continual guidance,” is direction about who and when to serve more than where or what to buy. What if Isaiah is more concerned with our spiritual health than our physical health?
May the suffering around us be a wake up call to serve. May Jesus be our example.
And when you sit down to enjoy the gluttonous amount of food that most like my family and I will enjoy, pause to pray for all those who are suffering today; pray for those who have selflessly put their lives in danger and want, to be the hands and feet of Christ to the least of these.
Lord, send me.