Friday, April 27, 2012

In God We Trust

Ever wonder  why impoverished people who suffer so much day in and day out believe in God?  In many ways it seems counter intuitive.  Shouldn't they feel abandoned by God?  Ignored by God?  Or that there simply isn't a God?  Their lives seem to belie the concept of a personal loving God.  So why do we find such deep, pure faith here?  Honestly, I am constantly humbled and taught by the poorest of the poor as they love and worship the Risen Lord.  I don't know the whole answer to this big question but here is something I learned recently...

Right before I left Honduras a couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of a long conversation (in Spanish!) with one of our staff members, Jimy.  Jimy is a very sweet (but manly!) maintenance man.  My friendship with him has deepened since the day he came upon me sobbing in the Casa LAMB TV room.  I had just spoken to Wheeler for the first time in hospice.  When we hung up I was overcome by the reality that I would soon lose my precious Wheeler to his desired destination.  I explained to Jimy why I was crying and he immediately started praying over and with me.  I think that day I changed in his eyes from a nice gringa to a sister in Christ.  Since then, we have gotten closer and talk more.  
So, this particular day, he found me on my balcony doing some last minute work before my departure to the US for a short visit.   We talked about government, immigration, Christianity, and all sorts of things.  I was surprised when he asked me about the design of the dollar bill.  I had some US bills on my bed and I guess that is what spurred his question.  He was so impressed by the inclusion of "In God We Trust."  (He had recognized the word God and I translated the phrase.)  It was unbelievable to him that  that faith was so pervasive in our country we even have that on our money!  (I had to take a moment to describe the separation of church and state, freedom of religion, and the origin of our country leading to that... I Spanish!)  
We began talking about trusting God and the very nature of God. In Jimy's words:
"To God everyone is the same, equal. There are no rich or poor, dark skinned or light skinned, Honduran or American.  We are all the same to God."  How true of God and how untrue of us.  Be honest.  Do you consider the poor, homeless, uneducated, unemployed panhandler your equal?  How hurtful it must be to know that others consider you less than because of the color of their skin, the country of origin, their net worth....
"God sees us all." And He counts every hair on our heads.  How many people in our paths do we not see?  Imagine what it must be like to be invisible to the people passing right by you, close enough to touch?
"God listens to all of us."   Indeed.  He listens to our joy, our sorrow, our fears, our anxiety, our anger, our dreams.  One of the beautiful things about the Psalms is they give us permission to speak our hearts and minds to God, including ranting and raving at Him!  Recall the frustration of not being heard by someone important to you, the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.  Who are we not hearing right now? 
"God loves us all." It took me a long time to really believe that this included me.  In fact, it was my first mission trip to Honduras and time spent with the faithful poor that finally convinced me that I, too, was deeply loved by God.  I can tell you from personal experience, there is nothing more searing to your heart to feel you are not worth being cared for.   Do we ever communicate that awful feeling to others?
So, that is why, in part at least, the impoverished love God.  More importantly, they don't blame Him for their suffering.  Mother Teresa put it very clearly -- “When a poor person dies of hunger it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.”   Ouch.