Holland Column: Hope is confidence that something better is coming
By Dr. William Holland
I have the privilege of being a community chaplain and along with this opportunity to serve I see a lot of heartbreaking circumstances that many people do not see. Every year at the holiday season it’s difficult for me to be filled with excitement because I’m surrounded by those who are facing major problems and will not experience the same blessings that most of us enjoy. This past Christmas and Thanksgiving, we were overwhelmed with those reaching out for help. The little children are so innocent and helpless and we have actually watched them open the jars of peanut butter and eat it with their fingers because they were hungry. We do not have to search in other third world countries to find people who are hungry and going through hard times – we have them in our own hometown.
The last couple of months, I’ve been busy helping to coordinate food drives for the needy, but even though we helped numerous families, this did not resolve the problem. Boxes of food and clothing is a nice gesture but how can we help people escape from poverty? I know nothing is impossible with God as I remember Jesus miraculously feeding five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. If this was not amazing enough, after everyone had eaten all they wanted, they took up twelve baskets of leftovers. Maybe instead of focusing on the size of the need, we should consider how big our God is!
Many of those filling out applications were grandparents who are raising their grandchildren because their children are in trouble. I could sense the anxiety as I listened and with no magical solutions, all I could do is pray for them and encourage them to keep praying as well. The drug epidemic has become so widespread that it’s affecting extended families and many of them cannot afford the financial burden. Another factor that is associated with poverty is the amount of people who do not have a college education and are faced with accepting lower paying jobs.
Add this with the ever-increasing cost of living and this creates a serious challenge to survive. I know when I’m dealing with difficulty I am stressed, but can we imagine the level of concern that many people deal with every day? Unfortunately, a significant portion of our society lives in a continual state of fear and depression about their inability to purchase food, pay their bills, or maintain reliable transportation. Many are worried about the basics such as having health insurance and being able to purchase big-ticket items when things need to be replaced.
I know there is probably not enough money in the world to fix everyone’s problems, however I do believe with all of my heart that the God who delivered Israel from the Egyptians in Exodus chapter 14 can also deliver any of us from whatever problems we may be facing. Of course, I believe in doing all the practical things, but hope gives us the ability to remain optimistic (even when things seem impossible) with a sincere confidence that something better is coming.
We should celebrate Thanksgiving everyday as an appreciation to God for giving us His blessings, however, if we are only basking in the delight of our own abundance we may forget about the individuals all around us that have a fragment of what we have. I know that some people will be quick to point out how hard they have worked to accomplish great things and that is a worthy point, but it’s also good to remember that we did not do it all by ourselves. It’s the Lord who empowers us with His wisdom and gives us favor to succeed.
May we consider where we would be today without His grace and mercy? It’s our pride that makes it easy to look down on those who struggle as we blame them for their own failures. Yes, many have made critical mistakes but that does not disqualify them from receiving God’s love and forgiveness or our compassion. Maybe we should try to see others as God sees them and demonstrate more humility instead of being judgmental. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name” Psalm 100:4.
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