Like most people, I have a "wish list" of things I'd like to have someday. But it's just that - a wish list. Most of the things on that list aren't really necessities. As I look around, I have what I need to live comfortably, especially when compared to others.
A friend recently forwarded an e-mail that contained the testimony of a 70 year old widow living in an African nation. This woman not only lost her husband, but her home when he died. Once she lived in comfort, but with his death, everything changed.
Since she didn't receive any inheritance, she survived by selling what she could - all the remaining household furniture and even the precious gifts her husband had once given her. Medical and dental care are non-existent for this woman so she pulls her own teeth and stitches up her own wounds with a needle and thread. She supports herself by painting and selling her work, gardening and limiting herself to one meal per day.
Yet somehow, in the midst of her own need, she has found a precious secret - that of giving to others, even when she doesn't really have it to give. She banded together with another family of seven, even more destitute because they have no income at all. A small family of four with two infants and a young man with limited resources also comprise her "family." Together they look out for each other, doing what they can to survive.
In the midst of her loneliness, she finds her joy by helping others - at 70, she hopes to share her nursing skills in areas of the country where cholera runs rampant, but government officials think she is too old to help and refuse to allow her to go.
"I am still here and refuse to let go. There are too many people left in this country who need compassion, care and hope to go on. Although there are organisations and charitable groups who try to help, there aren't enough of them. But the solution lies with all of us here - black , white and coloured, to start caring for each other. It takes more than courage, it takes fury and grief to explode into action," she writes.
"To all those who live elsewhere and who have never experienced this deprivation, let me tell you, it is a testing experience. Above all, learn from it, because - but for the Grace of God there goes You."
Father, help me learn to live frugally so I may give to others - not only sharing Your words which are rich beyond measure, but also to give tangibly, doing what I can to ease their hurts and desperate needs. Amen!