by Susan Hansen
We are regularly bombarded with images from the news media—famine in North Korea, a flood in Mozambique, refugees in Chechnya, a woman freezing on the streets of Washington, DC. Many of us, perhaps even most of us, are pulled along from one area of need to another, depending on which sector receives the most media attention. Civil war in Congo, drought in Ethiopia, mudslides in Nicaragua—we barely get our feet wet in one seemingly impossible crisis, when SPLASH…the media hits us in the face with another like a bucket of ice-cold water.
How are we supposed to decide which need gets our undivided attention? Should our attention go undivided? Which hungry person or group should get our financial support? Into what arena do we cast our time and energy? As frustrating as it may be, there are no easy answers!
The media will continue to bombard us with urgent messages of people in need. But—sifting through this sea of messages, we will guard our hearts against the creeping hardness that threatens to petrify our desire to help. We will throw ourselves heartily into those tasks that seem to lead to long-term changes, all the while keeping an eye peeled for areas of immediate need. Diligence and hope will be the words that keep us fighting for the lives of those with no hope. Through prayer God will guide us into hard work that will help—and one day, though probably not in this lifetime, we will rest.
The task before us is not an easy one—it is made up of hard work, sweat, hours of mental torment and frustration, the stinch of filth, and even death. It is, however, a task that we must tackle with all the strength, hope, and courage that God has given us. We will work until we can work no more—we will hope in a God who loves and cares for each human being.
—Susan Hansen teaches low-income young people in Stuart, Florida.