Thursday January 1, 2009
If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered. Prov. 21:13.
A brand new year, a brand new start—or that’s the general idea. But the resolutions made will be broke once more, and much of the baggage from last year will carry over to this one. We think in personal terms such as family conflict, health issues, financial strain or personal loss. Changing the date on the calendar will not resolve these issues so easily, and many of us will continue to face the challenges of last year. But there is always the recognition that others have it worse. This thought is not a panacea for our troubles, but engenders a sense of thankfulness that we do not have their problems.
Our text today points to the major tragedies in the world, always overshadowing our individual ones. Major areas of poverty are a continuing and growing problem, particularly as the world financial crisis deepens. Military conflict and oppression is still a chief source of misery, as are despotic regimes that subjugate their citizens and religious minorities. Then there are natural disasters prevalent in many areas of the world, and localised disasters such as ships sinking, planes crashing and fires that take large numbers of human lives—today many New Year revellers were killed in the Bangkok fire.
Our personal difficulties are often big enough to consume us, but the world calamities are so overwhelming, that we think we can do nothing about it. But being concerned about others can lessen the anxiety about ourselves, for there is something we can do about worldwide tragedy. Following and contributing to an aid agency or childcare program is a positive contribution although it may seem like an insignificant act. A child noticed hundreds of starfish left on the beach by the receding tide. As he started throwing them back into the sea one by one, a passer-by commented that he was making little difference to the vast numbers. The boy threw another starfish into the foam as he replied: “It made a difference to that one.” We can make a world of difference to one person also.
Whatever your concerns for the coming year, we pray that God will richly bless you and meet your needs over the coming year. And may you be encouraged to be the one to bring God’s blessing to some other individual in need.