Continue to love each other with true Christian love. Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! (Hebrews 13:1-2 NLT)
We have been reminded again of the sense of community we human beings feel in times of crisis. The people affected may live far away from you. You may not know a single individual involved. But your heart goes out to them.
There is a hurricane in Florida or earthquake in Mexico City, and we send millions of dollars in aid. There is a tsunami on the other side of the world, and we rally with millions more in food, blankets, and medicine for short-term care; we send even more to rebuild infrastructure and take care of orphaned children. The Red Cross and World Vision, churches and individuals — we pool our resources to rush people and supplies. We know instinctively it is the right thing to do.
The specific cases in point most recently, of course, are those of 18-year- old Natalee Holloway and 11-year-old Brennan Hawkins. Then come the trio of 11-year-old Anibal Cruz, 6-year-old Daniel Agosto, and 5-year-old Jesstin Pagan.
Natalee vanished on the island of Aruba. There on a graduation trip with high school friends from Alabama, she hasn't been seen since the wee hours of May 30. Aruban police, her family, and the FBI been trying to find her. In addition, the attention and concern of millions of us who have never been to Aruba, and who have no connection to her personally, have also focused on her plight.
Brennan was lost four days in the rugged mountain terrain of Utah. His age, weight, and summer clothing made it unlikely he could survive the nights when temperatures dropped into the 30s. Hundreds of volunteers dropped their routines and scoured the area on foot, on horseback, and with ATVs until he was found. Hungry, wet, and cold, Brennan was in remarkably good shape when rescued.
While heads were turned, Anibal, Daniel, and Jesstin apparently decided to play in the trunk of an old car. When they were found two days later, all had suffocated. The investigation continues, but incredible sadness hangs over a neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey. How could searchers have missed them?
Oh, I know. We tell ourselves how "independent" we are — or want to be. We fancy ourselves "rugged individualists." The truth is that we are all members of larger communities called families, churches, companies, and nations. We are never really free-standing islands. God didn't create us to live that way.
The people more likely to be overlooked may be old people and children, sick people and those who've really messed up. They don't get news coverage. Somebody close to them will have to notice. And care. And reach to them.
My task today is to be alert for someone who thinks nobody cares. To share her joy without envy or his pain without judgment. Might it be yours, too?