I'd had a pretty hectic day with my four-year-old. When bedtime finally came, I laid down the law: "We're putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, and reading ONE book. Then it's lights out!"
Her arms went around my neck in a gentle embrace, and she said, "We learned in Sunday school about little boys and girls who don't have mommies and daddies."
Even after I'd been such a grouch, I thought, she was still grateful to have me. I felt tears begin to well up in my eyes, and then she whispered, "Maybe you could go be THEIR mom?"
You would think that being aware of others who are in need would make us more appreciative for what we have. That's not always the case. I can remember growing up hearing those words every child — at least, many a child in the U.S. — heard when we complained about not wanting to eat what was being served for dinner. "You need to eat your vegetables. There are children in China who are starving right now."
My first reaction was usually to think, "How is my eating this plate of food going to help them?"
My second reaction was usually to think, "How about if we just stick this food in an envelope and ship it off to them?"
Unfortunately, being aware of others who are in need does not always make us more appreciative for what we have — while it should, it often doesn't. Being aware of people in the world who are suffering famine doesn't seem to make us appreciate that we have plenty of food. Being aware of Christians in the world who are being persecuted for their faith doesn't seem to make us appreciate that we have freedom of religion. Being aware of people in the world who have no family or friends doesn't seem to make us appreciate that we have both.
Sadly, it seems, often the only thing that makes us appreciate something is having it removed from our own lives for a while. Think about it. When do you most appreciate the fact that you enjoy electricity and running water? I'm guessing, if you're like me, that it's after you've had one or the other unavailable for a while.
Woe to you ... Who lie in beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall ... who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph (Amos 6:3-6 NKJV).
Open your eyes to the needs of those around you. Take advantage of opportunities to help those whom you can. And allow the needs of others to cause you to reflect on how blessed you are, and the responsibility you have to use what God has blessed you with in a way that will glorify Him.