A major disaster kills hundreds and hundreds of people, leaves thousands and thousands without the basics of shelter, food, water, and medical care. Normally all people would bend over backwards to assist them. Instead we have media celebrities suggesting that they be left to their own devices or they use it as a political commentary. This should seriously demonstrate that the concept that this is a Christian nation is nothing more than political fodder.
Matthew tells us that Jesus used the parable of the sheep and the goats to teach us, as followers of Christ, how to respond to people in need. The way we respond to those who suffer is in fact the way we respond to the love of God visible in Jesus. The Gospels all draw out the understanding that we must forgive and love others so that we may truly be forgiven and loved.
Think of it this way; could you play a musical instrument the very first time that you tried to play? I couldn’t. I learned to play the violin, the clarinet and the tenor saxophone. Everyone took time and regular practice to be able to play (and I freely admit that I was not great on any of them, but I could hold my own). We can succeed in love and forgiveness by practicing these wonderful gifts.
One of the largest obstacles we face in sharing love and forgiveness and caring for others is our own fear of losing something we need. I cannot do this task, I cannot help that person, I cannot do anything about that, because I don’t have the time, the resources, the abilities, the responsibility, etc. It is true that we cannot stop the earthquakes that hit Haiti, the mudslides in California, the starvation of Darfur, the wars, the hatred, the murders; however, we are not expected to deal with everything happening everywhere.
Search your heart for the problem that truly calls out to you. Let God guide you. Then explore how your gifts and talents and resources can be put to use in solving that problem. Say, for example, that you want to help in Haiti. You can send money through the Week of Compassion, you can prepare health kits and infant kits and send them through Week of Compassion. You can get together friends and family to put the kits together. Put out a change jar for the work that will take years to accomplish. Make contact with the mission representatives of our church serving in the area to learn what the real problems are and what could be done to provide help. This method can work for major disasters like Haiti as well as local issues such as literacy, hunger, or homelessness.
This is how we start to love and forgive and discover that we are really loved and forgiven ourselves. Take a step, give it a try. It is a remarkable experience.