Remembering the Hungry in a Week of Bounty

The man had the usual cardboard sign and I had the usual problem: I never carry cash. I try to keep a stash in the sunglass pocket of my car – just for this reason, but I’m bad about replacing it.

My four-year-old son, he asked why. Why does that man stand there with that sign? I told him some people are hungry.

“Why,” he repeated. It’s the hourly word in our home.

“Well, you know how I told you we get money by working. Some people don’t have work, so they have no money. They can’t buy food.”

He was quiet for a few minutes before he used the skill he’s been showing off ever since he climbed a toy car and undid the bolt on our back door to get outside at the age of one: problem-solving.

“Mama’s house! Lots of food at Mama’s house. Lot’s of people come!”

Me: “Yeah, we should have them over, huh?”

Josh: “Pleeease. All hungy people.” (I spelled it right. Again, he’s four.)

He just may save the world yet.

——–

The results are in for the latest Feeding America study, and the news is not good. From surveying thousands of clients and food partner agencies, Feeding America has found that:

  • 89% of households with children are food insecure
  • 69% of households had to choose between utility bills and food this past year

My state, the state of Oklahoma is in the top ten states with the highest hunger rates. According to a Gallup report in 2012, 21.2 percent of people in Okla. reported that there was at least one time in the past year that they could not afford to buy food.

I overheard one of those families excited about splitting a hamburger four ways. One burger. Four people.

I’ve been writing about prayer lately. Here’s the deal about prayer: it seems to be the catalyst to obedience in all the hard places. The eye opener to what real justice looks like.

Prayer is the connecting line between the God we love and the people He loves. When we really commune with God, we can’t miss His heart for the broken and needy.

And I just plain can’t seem to miss that the Jesus I’m talking to made it pretty clear about the poor and the hungry. I just can’t seem to say that softly to the lady struggling with giving the man five dollars in the parking lot, so I just keep my mouth shut. She says she doesn’t know how he will spend it.

It’s true. We never do.

So we keep trying to control how and when and to whom we give.

A truck passed me yesterday advertising a business. The slogan read: Designing the Bathroom of Your Dreams.

What I may not have thought twice about before made my stomach turn. We pay more for tile in the U.S. than it costs to feed a family for a year in Tanzania.

Tile. We walk all over it.

I grew up quite privileged. I’ve had it quite well. Yeah, they run baths for you at the Ritz in Boston with rose petals. They serve champagne to you on a silver platter in the Olympic Restaurant of the Celebrity Millennium. I like nice things.

Then over the years, bit by bit, chunk by chunk, the Word began to mess with my life. Designer bags bothered me. Not other people having them. Just me. See because when God messes with you, it’s not about judgment. You just realize you really do want more. Something deeper, more real and lasting. The comfort doesn’t feel so good anymore. Most of my nice things now are gifts, and I appreciate them.

I also find myself asking every single Christmas how much every family could change the world if we redirected our spending and found joy in just being together. The great thing is so many loving people are making a difference.

The painful truth is that so many are still hungry and homeless and alone this Thanksgiving week. What I think really matters is this: will our empathy give birth to action?

There are a million different needs out there. But there are also millions who can help. If every one does ONE thing to love ONE person or ONE family – we really can make a difference, together.

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.” Prov. 19:17

 

 

 

 

 

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