Disparity: inequality, imbalance, unevenness. This past week I have been made even more aware that, like Elizabeth’s sixth grade teacher avowed: “Life isn’t always fair on the Ponderosa”. I hate it. I think of my friends who have children with mental illnesses, addictions or other friends who have been diagnosed with incurable, but difficult life hampering illnesses all produce within me : It’s NOT FAIR. And the normal response, “why?” Or as many determine, “how can a loving God….” There is something within our soul that wants a explanation of the “whys” of life. Wiser theologians and philosophers have debated these topics for years.
Of course, rants and raves do not solve or change any of these feelings and situations. Since sin entered our world, so did disparity. Sin brought death and disease–which affected not only our spirit, but also our soul and our bodies. It is an inheritance of sort, that until Jesus comes we must cope and manage.
So what is the “more perfect way” (I Corinthians 12: 31) in responding to and viewing these difficult situations? Probably not the ostrich way–head in the sand–“it doesn’t exist”; nor the critical “it must be something they have done or not done, so it doesn’t touch me” approach. What would the most loving thing can we do? First we need to acknowledge that some people are walking and dealing with very difficult situations. Not their fault. Not their choice. It is somehow, in their journey they must bear these troubles. But my question to each of us–what can we do to make their walk easier?
When your heart of compassion begins to be stirred for others, listen to that heart. Remember when Jesus was moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:14 and Matthew 18:27 for example), he acted. Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, the sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.
Interesting response, isn’t it? He asked his disciples to pray for more workers. That is us. You and me–being sent into the world to help those who are confused and helpless. So, our first response to a need, is to pray. Pray for help. And as you pray for that help, keep in mind that you or I may be that person that He wants to send. Open your heart to that possibility. If you see a need, you may be just the person He wants to fill it.
Matthew 14:14 Jesus had compassion on the people, but it was the disciples who came to Jesus and said, This is a remote place, and its’ already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves. Those disciples were aware of the hunger and need for the crowd, but sought to solve the problem in a very natural way. As they talked with Jesus, he said, “That isn’t necessary–feed them.” There were only five loaves and two fish to share among the crowd. Maybe you don’t feel you have enough of whatever to meet the need, but you do. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t. See what you do have to help meet the need, asking our God to multiply the rest.
Matthew 18:27, tells the story of a servant begging his master to release him from a very large debt. Then the master was filled with pity (compassion) and he released him and forgave his debt. We learn a different lesson in this story. The man forgiven did not pass the forgiveness along, but became hard hearted and refused to forgive another’s even smaller debt. Sometimes, as we follow our heart of compassion it will seem the person we were trying to bless or help rejects our offering. If that happens, we need to trust that God is our rewarder, and will recompense in His own ways. Do not let resentment take root, but simply give it back to Jesus. Ask Him to sort it out.
God is moving to use us to help people. Sin ravages, love heals. We may not be able to erase the disparities we find in this world, but we can make it a little easier for them to bear.