Consuming Bad News

Over the last couple of months, it seems no matter where I turn, there is a steady stream of sad news. During a routine visit to a physician, a high school friend of mine discovered she has a tumor on her lung. She has been a trooper enduring test after test and finally surgery to remove part of her lung. I took a day of vacation to make preparations for the big canned good drive our nonprofit was holding at the local fair. At the end of the day, we drove up to where my SUV was parked to discover someone had run into the passenger door. They did not feel obligated to leave a note and assume responsibility for the damage. The next day, I had my hand squashed between a pallet jack and a slab of concrete.

Later that afternoon while loading supplies in my SUV, we kept hearing sirens. I turned around to discover a neighbor's house was on fire. Fortunately, the family escaped without injury, and the Fire Department got it extinguished before it spread to other homes, but sadly, the family lost their home. A college friend of mine's husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And, a friend of mine's daughter was found to have blood clots on her brain causing her severe migraines and excruciating pain. I turn on the radio, read the news at AJC online or USAToday and learn of families devastated by automobile accidents and brutal violence. For almost a month, I have read messages and heard voicemails from community food pantries running out of food.

Through all this, I find myself overwhelmed with sadness and grief and a feeling of being completely powerless to do anything to make a positive difference in the lives of the people involved in all of these situations. I know that God is still in charge and as my heart is breaking for hurting families, I know His is too. I find myself sitting and wondering how do we change the world as we know it. How do we stop the violence in our cities? How do we stop the senseless deaths on our roadways? How do we end the rage that seems so prevalent in our society? How do we end homelessness and childhood hunger?

The Sun came up on Sunday, and we set out to the local fair and the canned good drive we had been planning for two months. As the day progressed, I watched 105 volunteers arrive and work diligently to collect and box canned goods. I watched thousands of local citizens arrive with bags of canned goods to donate to help feed struggling families in our community. When the Sun had set, we had 10 pallets of canned goods (approximately 12, 750 lbs). We woke up early Monday, climbed in the rented truck and began making deliveries to community food pantries. By the time the day was over, we had restocked the shelves of 9 pantries that had been struggling to meet the needs of the families arriving at their doors.

This weekend, my brother called and told me about a malnourished horse that they had rescued and were working to get her fed and healthy. This is the second horse they have taken in, fed, and cared for along with dogs, cats, and squirrels. Are they an organized nonprofit with regular contributors? Not at all. Just a couple of people that saw a need and decided they could step in the gap and make a difference.

I know we have not changed the world in the last two weeks, but we have made a small difference in a hurting world. I pause and think what could happen if everyone looked around them and decided to make a small difference in the lives of those they encounter everyday. I heard Andy Stanley encourage the church last year to do for one what you wish you could do for all. It makes sense to me. You do not have to launch a nonprofit. You do not have to have a significant sum of money. Just be aware of those around you struggling and ask yourself, "What can I do?" Take a hurting friend to dinner and listen to them. Give a cold homeless stranger your jacket. Do something - no matter how small - something is better than nothing.


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