A letter an eleven-year-old whose family doesn’t have enough food

How would you explain God’s love to an eleven-year-old whose family doesn’t have enough food?

Piper: “God wants us to trust him and want him more than we want food or parents or clothing or even life. He knows what we need most in order to become the kind of people he wants us to be. And even if you die, he will take care of you.”- Desiring God

full_letter-to-a-teenager-in-need

This article from Desiring God, a letter from John Piper to a 11 years-old child broke my heart. It really did. Not that the answer of Piper was heartbreaking in the sense that it was disappointing, it was on the contrary written, I see, with a lot of love and tact. What I mean is, what “Tommy” is going through breaks my heart.

I was reading the comments people posted in reaction to Piper’s answer, and a lot of them sounded like “But why do you preach and don’t feed the boy”, or “Feed him first”. First, I would like to say that as we can see in his reply, John Piper was ready to help in a practical, concrete manner. And who knows if he did not actually help the family without shouting it from the rooftops, out of humility ? This remark aside, I wanted to share a few thoughts I had on my mind after I read this article- here they are, not necessarily in order of importance:

  • First, I hope that I will never be so sophisticated, so unapproachable as to make people too shy or embarrassed to ask me to help them.
  • Second, I’m thinking about the fact that some people will never ask for help. I remember, when I was a bit younger, that I was so proud and so independant that even if I was to starve, to take the example of the article- I don’t think I would have had been able to tell anyone. People often look so impressive. So above us. So cool. Always having serious conversations about the latest Iphone or some sophisticated gadget. They take food for granted. What embarrassement it would be, for me, and for them as well, if I was going to reveal that I struggle to eat. 
  • I am thinking of what we should teach our children. I’ve seen so many kids making fun of others, at school, because their clothes were not cool enough, because  from year to year they would keep the same backpack, the same pencil-case, etc. I think it is really, really important to teach the kids to not make fun of their classmates because you NEVER know what he or she might be going through: in high school, I had friends who were orphans; whose parents were poor; I’ve witnessed people taking secretarial courses and breaking down in tears because they could not afford “regular” food, and they had to depend on foodbanks. I’ve seen girls being so excited, in highschool, to get, for their birthday, a cheap lipgloss and eyeshadow box because it was something they never dreamed of having; I could write tons of example, but my goodness- in spite of all the ambiant coolness of our age, poverty is still there. And likewise, it’s easy to hold prejudices against apparently rich people- but again, I’d have countless examples on store that would prove that their lives are not easy as they seem to be
  • Spontaneous acts of kindness and hospitality, no matter how small, can be the beginning of a frienship and/or of a trustworthy relationship. Since often, people will never dare to ask- a plate of cookie and a note can go a long way. I am not saying this so people will say “how nice and thoughtful she is”. The point of giving, I believe, is not to bring attention to us or to try to sound or act kind, generous and benevolent. Some people are alone and suffering and small acts of kindness can really make a difference in their lives.
  • Teaching our children and kids in general to be thankful for what they have and not taking what they own -whether it be toys, food, clothes, anything- is crucial. I want one day to teach my kids that we ought to give thanks for what we have in our plates, and not be complaining. Someone once posted a video on Facebook and you could see Syrian children being asked what they wanted for Christmas- among their answers, one children said “Fresh bread”. Fresh bread. I get my bread every time at the local bakery – how many times I don’t think about the privilege being able to have fresh bread whenever I want ?
  • What good does it do, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not prove it with actions? This kind of faith cannot save him, can it? Suppose a brother or sister does not have any clothes or daily food and one of you tells them, “Go in peace! Stay warm and eat heartily.” If you do not provide for their bodily needs, what good does it do?In the same way, faith by itself, if it does not prove itself with actions, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
  • I was also deeply touched by one of the things John Piper mentionned in his letter. This boy struggles with a lack of food, and in a way or another, we will all come to struggle with an apparent lack of something in our lives. Looking back at my past, I lacked that something; I now realize that God perfectly used that lack to prepare me for something greater than the said lack- during that time, He shaped me and molded me so I could be fit for the next season of my life, and it reminds me, today, as I was complaining in my heart about something- that everything is under His control and that I can trust Him for the next season of my life, and that all I will be going through, ” God works all things together for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28)

God is good,

Stéphanie

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