Simply Grateful

Photo by N. Dumlao (Unsplash)

The evening news featured a disturbing segment on a developing catastrophe in Madagascar.

Madagascar sits in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southern Africa. Despite having considerable natural resources, it has the highest rate of poverty in the world.

For the last few years, the southern tip of the country has experienced unprecedented drought. What was once lush green pastureland has become desert. The water source is drying to a trickle and people, animals, livelihoods, and hope are dying.

The outcome of these dry seasons is acute food insecurity. Crops are failing. Mothers are feeding their children cactus leaves. Fathers have stopped eating.

Life is becoming unsurvivable.

The camera panned across a group of women sitting in the dust. Children wandered and paced. They squatted amid the dirt and rubble surrounding the village. Their faces showed desperation. Their eyes reflected the pain of hunger and disease.

The camera stopped, zoomed close, an emaciated 2-year-old girl. She lay in her mother’s arms, her body shaking violently as she cried. Her small hands formed fists. Her eyes welled with tears. The camera brought her reality into my living room.

1.6 million women, men, and children scan the distant horizon, searching for hope.

This story caught me off-guard. I know suffering happens around the globe. It happens in the streets and open fields of our community. I’m not naïve to this reality. But there was something different about this situation.

Perhaps it was a matter of timing.

I was sitting in the living room, listening to the television, and looking through cookbooks. I was planning the menu for Thanksgiving dinner. A time, for many, when we celebrate family, consume our favorite foods, and indulge in familiar traditions. We can sideline our challenges, the frustration of the pandemic, our inconveniences and find a little joy.

The contrast between what I was witnessing on the screen and what I was creating in my mind was unsettling. I have a choice. The women and children of Madagascar desperately wait. I have means. They live in empty-handed poverty. I have options. They willingly eat cactus.

I often tell myself that I need, deserve, more. Yet, I have a closet full of clothes and shoes, a pantry and freezer full of food, electricity, a warm home, two cars, and the luxury of a steady income.

They have a world that has dried up.

I carry no shame from this revelation. However, I do acknowledge I can’t see my life, or this world, quite the same.

Brokenness surrounds us and unfortunately, there are no quick solutions. But starting today, I can shift my attitude. I can be grateful for all I have been gifted. God has richly blessed this country, my little section of the world, and my life.

As I close my eyes, I catch a glimpse of an emotionless face gazing back at me. There is no judgment or blame, just a simple reminder – be thankful, simply grateful.     

Wishing you God’s blessings this Thanksgiving,

The following video is a beautiful reminder, regardless of how the year has been or how the future may be, we are blessed beyond our temporal understanding. We can walk through our lives missing the blessings but when we choose to open our hearts, turn our gaze away from ourselves, and look up, we begin to understand that,

We are greatly loved,

We have all we need,

Our lives are blessed!

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