Why am I so apathetic about people's suffering, I often wonder? I think it goes back to this: I feel as if I can't make a dent, so why try? There are so many needs, I am only one person. I'm not going to make a difference so what's the use?
After going to Haiti, I see just a tiny glimpse of how the world is hungry and dying—they have so many needs. My neighbors are elderly and sick—they have needs. My church friends have lost jobs or are going through emotional strife—they have needs. My own family is struggling to deal with so many things. Everybody NEEDS something but I hardly have enough energy or time to live my own life. I feel like turning a blind eye and a deaf ear when I hear about one more need.
Then my friend Sue inadvertently told me a story last week that has changed my whole outlook. She wasn't even sharing it in relation to any of this. She just told the dang story and God was behind it for sure. Funny how He does that. You're going along, minding your own business, when WHAMMO! God speaks in a way that penetrates into the deepest part of your heart.
So she told me about a man who was walking along the ocean shore, stooped over and throwing things back into the sea. A younger man saw him and curiously approached.
"What are you doing?"
"Well, these starfish were brought in by a storm, and I'm throwing them back so they can live."
"Look at all these starfish," the younger man made a gesture toward miles of starfish covered beach. "You're never going to make a difference. There are too many."
The old man straightened up a little, and threw another one out into the sea. "I will make a difference for this one."
Wow…God doesn't want me to focus on the world's problems and wonder how I can solve them. He knows I'm only one person. But He does want me, one need at a time, to do something about those in reach.
Like starfish, many people have been washed into shore by the storms of life and they are unable to help themselves. But, by taking the time to address the needs I meet, one at a time, I can make a difference…at least for this one.