Monday, June 3, 2019
I have a serious question to ask; one which I’m not sure I can adequately answer for myself without strong conviction of guilt.
When did our self-absorption with personal prosperity cause our heart to become so hard that it cannot be touched by human suffering?
Pretty heavy for a Monday morning, isn’t it? Please read on.
Deuteronomy 6:10-12 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
I am convicted by the words of Moses when he warns the Israelites that prosperity and luxury could cause them to forget the Lord and forget their own tragic situation from which He rescued them. How sad it is when our own needs and wants so dominate our thoughts and ambitions that we cannot be touched by human suffering. How deeply have we sunk into self-absorption that we carry on with our own lives as if nothing has happened?
I was first struck with my own guilt of this about fourteen years ago, right after two hurricanes devasted the southern parts of Mississippi and Louisiana. At the time, gas prices were increasing, and I was more concerned about what that would cost me than I was for the people who had lost everything. I was deeply disappointed in my attitude.
We may not always be able to do much to relieve the suffering of others, but we certainly can open our hearts to feeling what they must be feeling and open our minds to whatever God would ask us to do in response to their need. At the very least, it is time for us to prepare for the loss of all things by living a life of true faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” The Apostle John said, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” And James, the brother of Jesus, warns all of us who are caught up in our prosperity that “the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.” He goes on and says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
Another pressing question I had to answer at that time in my life was this: “How would I be responding if this tragedy had happened to me?” I wondered if my faith in God and my focus on His Kingdom would be sufficiently strong to agree with the prophet Habakkuk when he said,
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.”
God has blessed us with prosperity, but as we have seen from the past, it can be taken away in an instant. What would that do to your faith?
And when it happens to someone else, is your heart able to be touched with their pain?