I watched the TV screen as throngs of children ran towards an unimpressive white van that drove towards them across the hot, sandy desert. The children, their black skin gleaming in the unsympathetic heat of noonday, sang in joyful unison, dancing and leaping across the dry ground as they formed several long lines. Large barrels of food- mushy porridge of some sort- were removed from the back of the white van and several women began scooping the goop into red plastic bowls and handing them to the eager children, one by one.
They were starving. Their ribs showed through the skin that stretched tight across their small, angular frames. Still, they stood patiently, waiting their turn. As each child received a portion, they began to eat and I smiled in sympathy for these poor kids who were grateful for even wallpaper-paste-like-gook that I would have gladly skipped a meal to avoid; and I smiled because they were being fed. It was a beautiful sight, these sunny, joy-filled faces getting to fill their empty bellies.
The unthinkable happened.
The food ran out.
My mouth fell open and I leaned forward, staring at the television screen in disbelief. Nearly half the children were still standing there, unfed. How could this happen? One small girl crawled inside one of the hot barrels and began scraping food from the sides with quiet determination. Another boy, about the same age as Joshua, suddenly realized the significance of the empty barrels and began to cry.
I cried with him.
I pictured my own son. I imagined the emotions that would tear my heart to pieces if he were hungry. If the hope of food was taken from right beneath his nose as he watched his playmates gobble down their last bites, knowing there would be none for him.
I cried harder.
How is it that we have come to take so much for granted? And place so much importance on obtaining THINGS? We're a society that loves our things. I complain that my living room rug is shabby and the computer is working slowly, I didn't have time to put makeup on and oh, heaven forbid, there's a hole in my brand new sock and my shoes don't match my pants.
It's hard to look past our own reality at times, but while some of us are busy whining about petty things, there are children starving...to death. There are people wondering how they're going to pay rent. Battling sickness and disease. Living in pain. Losing loved ones. These suffering people are perhaps not to be envied, but there's something that most of them have, that we should all possess, yet often forget to cultivate: a spirit of thankfulness. Thankfulness for the little things. Thankfulness for food, whether it's a bowl of mush or a big juicy steak dinner; thankfulness for stability and money; thankfulness for good health, something we always take for granted until we don't have it, right? Thankfulness for the gift of life.
We are surrounded by gifts from the Father, who showers us with blessings we don't deserve. We should really take the time to notice them. To thank Him for each one. We don't realize how precious these gifts are until they are suddenly stripped away.