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Want to start feeling hopeful again? Start by serving



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February 10, 2010 - You might be tired of hearing about Haiti. It isn't because you are cold-hearted or uncaring; it just means you are human. We can only see so much suffering and death and destruction before we have to step away to maintain our sanity. Caring hurts. Caring takes its toll. Caring in the midst of such overwhelming need can make you feel insignificant and hopeless. In order to deal with it, we tune out. We go to the movies, watch comedies, go for a walk, or go shopping. We do anything that takes our minds off of how horrible things are in the world around us.

We just can't look at one more sad face, one more orphaned child, one more man that lost his wife and kids. We cannot watch one more mother hold her children as they wait for food and water. It hurts something in our hearts. Somehow our soul gets damaged. The problem is that tuning it out doesn't really help. We are still overwhelmed, and worse, we ignore the suffering.

Sometimes we think finding the answer to the question of why it happened will help. Smarter people than me have tried to answer those questions, so I'm not even going to try. For me, it really doesn't matter why. I don't care why the earthquake happened. I don't care if it was a deal with the devil. I don't care if it was because of what didn't happen in Copenhagen. It happened. It was devastating. Lives were torn apart. People that God loves were devastated. God weeps.

In times like these, life is not a theological question to answer. In John's gospel, the disciples asked why a man was born blind. They asked if it was the man that sinned or his parents. The disciples knew that someone had to have sinned. Jesus said it wasn't the man or his parents. Jesus says, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (John 9:3 NIV). But it could be translated, "Neither this man or his parents sinned. Let the works of God be displayed in him!" In other words, Jesus said that there is work to be done and we better be about doing it. You and I have the ability to do something about the suffering in Haiti and it will demonstrate the power of God.

That power is not only demonstrated to the people in Haiti, but for us as well. When we are overwhelmed by suffering as in Haiti, we can question God and the way the world works. We can get depressed, angry, or frustrated. We can sit around and try to figure out how all of this happened and what it means for us and them. That won't help.

If we want to start feeling hopeful again, there is one thing we can do: We can start by giving and serving. When we give to people that need our help, we are participating in the work of God and somehow through that participation, we are filled with the Spirit of God. We become hopeful because God is hopeful. When we give we receive. That is powerful, for both the people in Haiti and ourselves.

When the man born blind was given his sight, he saw the Light for the first time in his life. Our sacrifices can bring light into the Haitians' darkness and our own.

What do you say? Would you give to the people of Haiti so they could see the Light? You may not think you can do much, but it will make a huge difference for both you and the Haitians. I promise.

The Rev. Dave Gerber is pastor of Lake Louise Church.

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