Friday, January 15, 2010

Of Things Blessed and Unblessed

Human suffering. Tragedy. Despair. I get this same thought every time I am exposed to it. I've gotten it on every missions trip I have been on. It is the one plaguing question I can't get away from:

Why them?
And even more pointedly, why not me?

I struggle with this. A lot. I've been told by others that I have a 'bleeding heart' - and honestly, I don't think this is a bad thing. But sometimes it makes life hard (which I don't think is a bad thing either).

I said in my last post that I had a hard time even thinking wedding details in light of what has happened. But that doesn't take away from the fact that I still have had wedding details to take care of. And honestly, as far as that is concerned - it has been a great week (which is VERY hard to say in wedding-planning-world. At least for me).

In stark contrast to what is happening in Haiti, I feel like God has given me an extra dose of His blessing this week, which honestly, is really hard for me to reconcile. These two images are juxtaposed in my brain: Me with these blessings all around me and the Haitians in the overwhelming suffering. I don't need it as much as the Haitians why is He coming through in all of these little ways?

Now, these 'blessings' may not seem big to someone else...but I don't want to deny them as God's little blessings to me. I was given a brand new panini press that I was hoping to get. We found home-owner's insurance for about $300 less than we thought. I won a blog giveaway for a cell-phone wallet. My friend Liz surprised me with a package of this pumpkin butter I mentioned sounded yummy (She's in Belize, by the way). I ran into one of my favorites friends from high school last night, who was just sooo good to see.

But in light of Haiti, I am tempted to say, 'Who cares?' to all of those other things. When people's lives have been literally crushed, what do these things matter???

But I am wondering if maybe occurrences like the tragedy in Haiti is precisely why these things matter. We want to help them get back on their feet. To give them love and support. But for what?

Maybe so they can one day be in a place to enjoy little blessings for themselves. True, it probably won't be a panini press for them, but shouldn't they have the chance to have quality friendships? To have a home for their families? To have a peaceful life? To get a surprise gift?

I am not equating possessions and what we call 'American prosperity' with happiness. People with far less often are much happier than we Americans. (Believe me, I've seen it firsthand).

But, I am talking about the chance for a blessed existence (which I know doesn't necessarily mean a cotton-candylife). For me, it wasn't so much those 'things' that made me feel so happy and blessed. It was the fact that God was with me and had stepped into my world in those little, personal ways. And while God is actively blessing all the time - even in 'less-blessed' times (at least from my narrow perspective), it is not every week that I experience it so tangibly.

And maybe these little blessings feel so good to me because I do know what it is like to go through dark times that have felt 'unblessed'. So in contrast to that, these little blessings feel so good. And maybe they wouldn't mean as much if I hadn't gone through those dark times.

But those times did pass, and I believe they will pass for the people of Haiti.

That is my hope for the people of Haiti: that they can be restored and know what it is like feel His blessings on them - whatever form His blessings might look like. To have hope that even when bad times come, there is a chance for Him to bring good out of it. To walk with God and know His friendship, which is actually what makes a life most blessed.

And for us who are not suffering like they are, I think it is right to ask, 'OK, God - this didn't happen to me. So what do you want me to do with all the blessings you have given me?' I don't think He wants me to just sit back and enjoy my panini press and pumpkin butter (certainly not at the same time, lol). But I think there is a certain responsibility we have, those of us who are blessed, to help and reach out to those who are feeling 'unblessed' at this time.

Then, when the people of Haiti recover and experience their time of blessing, they will be in a good place to enjoy God's blessing to them and then reach out and bless the ones who will need it at that time.

In bringing this stream-of-consciousness to a close, I don't think the point is for me (or you) to feel bad about my blessings. But I also do not think I am to stay self-absorbed in all my blessings and ignore the suffering of others. I think we should enjoy our blessings as Ecclesiastes says, but we also are to get beyond ourselves, use our blessings in a positive way, and get involved in helping the suffering of others.

I don't know the mind of God, I don't know how this all works out. I can't answer why them and why not me. But I do know that since it was not me, I have a responsibility to do what I can. Because, honestly, that is what God did. He saw us in our suffering and mess, but didn't just stay in His 'blessed' heaven; He got involved in our mess and brought salvation.

It reminds me a quote I read from John Ortberg's book some years ago, God is Closer Than You Think:

" God chooses not to stand apart from our suffering. He is not unmoved by the pain of the creatures he loves. He embraces that pain and suffers with us. Karl Barth wrote that God would rather be unblessed with his creatures than to be the blessed God of unblessed creatures."

We should be like our Father.

[P.S. - After poking around on blog-world, I have see A TON of bloggers setting up their blogs to help Haiti, give suggestions, donate money based on comments...all sorts of generous things!!! One of the best ones is here. SOOOOO encouraging to see all the blessed people out there using their blessings to help! What a boost!!!]


  1. "Bleeding Hearts" are not bad things, mine is the same way so .. yeah... it's not... just cuz :) It's hard to fathom what is going on over there right now, much like it was probably hard for them to understand what was going on here for 9-11.. and Hurricane Katrina ... It sounds like despite the sad vibe, you've had a pretty good week :) Good Luck with the wedding plans!! My husband and I had a super quick wedding, and we're planning on having a big one... one day..

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest

  2. Katie, I think you have a wonderful understanding about being blessed. I have always felt that in our times of plenty and blessing we then have opportunity to bless and help others in turn. God is looking for people to represent Him to the less fortunate.
    So glad you had a good week!

  3. What an Extraordinary post!! Ecclesiastes is right: There is a time for everything. You are blessed, so allow yourself to be blessed. There will be times when you are not feeling blessed, but know that God is with you just the same. And God is with the people in Haiti. None of us can comprehend why this would happen, but as a (very very small) consolation, think about all of the tremendous outpourings of love, caring, and resources that have come from America in these last few days. And this is for a country that has literally destroyed itself in an attempt to survive. It's high time we reach out to help, and God forgive us for needing a natural disaster to spur us on towards something we should already have been doing.

  4. What a great post! We have so much to be thankful for. It has been amazing to read about all the ways people are reaching out to Haiti.

  5. Tragedies like this in Haiti definitely help put things in perspective. I know I have been through a few things personally in the last year or so that have made me rethink what makes me happy and what really matters in life. Seeing what has happened to all of these innocent people does that as well. I agree, it's encouraging to see how people are reacting to selflessly to help others who they don't know, because in truth, it could happen to any of us and we would hope that others would do the same for us.