I laid her pint-size body in her big old full size bed and was struck by the memory of families I had met that week who shared a bed smaller than my three-year old daughters. The Dominican Republic is a beautiful island. The turquoise waters, palm trees and warm white sands in contrast to the one room houses made of tin scraps with concrete floors; and absent luxuries such as bathrooms, walls, and “standard” appliances, is emotionally overwhelming. Staring into the eyes of malnourished mothers, desperate fathers, and wounded, orphaned children, leaves you in wonder at what hope they have for a better life. Not a life overflowing with the riches of this world, but one where at least basic needs are being met. I struggled to have a settled heart over these matters, when God reminded me of a profound truth:
This world is not our home.
We were not created to live in this imperfect, impoverished place forever. We were created for eternity with our King in a new heaven and new earth, perfectly restored. Most of us would admit that all of our basic needs are met and we enjoy comforts far beyond those needs. So much so that we hold more tightly to the things of this world, than to that which matters eternally.
While working with CURE International,
I witnessed extreme poverty and extreme generosity of time talents and resources. The most incredible part, however, were those who were generous out of their poverty. Evelyn, an abandoned street kid who grew up to found a local orphanage, is a perfect example. Evelyn is not rich in worldly wealth. She often does not know where the next meal for her orphans will come from, yet she gives her whole life to 19 children who would otherwise be left on the streets. It was a great reminder that life isn’t about all that you have, it’s about all that you do with what God has given you.
Simple things like the woman who uses her gift of sewing to make teddy bears for children receiving surgeries at CURE hospital, God uses that. He can use whatever gifts you have for His glory because He is the creator of each.
God calls us to be generous in our wealth and in our poverty, to be rich in good deeds, to use the gifts he’s given us for his glory, to overflow with gratitude despite our circumstances. To make an eternal difference with our lives. To never forget the sacrifice He made for each of us through the death of His son, Jesus; so the impoverished condition of our hearts would be rich in the greatest gifts we could ever receive–true love, joy, and peace.
Despite all of the challenges they face, the hearts of those I met in the DR were filled with more joy and gratitude than almost anyone I have come to know. I wish I could say I made as great an impact in thier lives, as they did in mine.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:11-13