Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, visited a church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, nearly a year after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The church’s building consisted of a tent made from white tarps and duct tape, pitched in the midst of a sprawling camp for thousands of people still homeless from the earthquake.
In the front row of that church sat six amputees ranging in age from 6 to 60. They were clapping and smiling as they sang song after song and lifted their prayers to God. The worship was full of hope and thanksgiving to the Lord.
No one was singing louder or praying more fervently than Demosi Louphine, a 32-year-old unemployed single mother of two. During the earthquake, a collapsed building crushed her right arm and left leg. After four days both limbs had to be amputated, but she was leading the choir, standing on her prosthesis and lifting her one hand high in praise to God.
Following the service, Stearns met Demosi and her two daughters, ages 8 and 10, who were living in a tent just 5 feet tall and, perhaps, 8 feet wide. She had lost her job, her home and two limbs, but she was deeply grateful, because God spared her life that fateful day.
“He brought me back like Lazarus, giving me the gift of life,” Demosi said.
She said she survived the devastating quake for two reasons: To raise her girls and to serve her Lord for a few more years.
“It makes no sense to me as an ‘entitled American’ who grouses at the smallest inconveniences — a clogged drain or a slow Wi-Fi connection in my home. Yet here in this place, many people who had lost everything ... expressed nothing but praise,” Streams said. “They have so much more to offer me than I to them. I feel pity and sadness for them, but it is they who might better pity me for the shallowness of my own walk with Christ.”
At times in our lives, it takes seeing the plight of others to fully comprehend the simple everyday pleasures we enjoy.
I traveled out of town a couple of months ago, and on my drive couldn’t miss seeing individuals on the side of the highway whose lives have made a sad downturn for whatever reasons to the point of residing in homelessness.
As I drove by, it was like a splash of cold water drenched my spirit, reminding me yet again of God’s blessings in my own life that I take for granted.
The apostle Paul said it well when he wrote to the Thessalonian church the following words: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
There are many in our families and communities who are suffering and dealing with any of a number of issues, whether health issues, financial concerns or relationship problems. With the Lord’s help, we are called to give thanks and trust in the Lord and not lean on our own understanding, and it is through acknowledging God’s power, perspective and ability to be with us in every situation, that we can experience peace and guidance (see Proverbs 3:5-6).
This week, try to take a step back and look with a wider lens at the issues and problems you are dealing with, and take a moment to pause and give thanks to God and rejoice in his love and promise to always be with us.