In the early morning hours on a recent trip to Mexico I was once again confronted with the heartbreaking reality of our world. As my wife and I walked the streets of one of the world’s most beautiful paradises, we were both feeling the peace of a good meal and the enjoyment of being alone together much later than we are usually out.
It was during our walk that we came across the most beautiful little girl. She couldn’t have been anymore than seven and she should have been safely at home sleeping the sound sleep that only children can have. Instead, here she stood on a street in paradise selling bracelets to passing tourists hoping to make enough to survive another day.
My wife and I have had far too many experiences like this through the years. I would think that my capacity to grieve would be lessening as I’ve confronted more than a bit of heartache around the world, but I began to frantically search my pockets to answer my wife’s call to give her money. This was one little girl who would not go hungry that night if we could help it.
As I’ve reflected on that experience over the last few days I’ve found my mind wandering to the hopelessness of mankind’s struggle to survive. There seems to be no answers to the suffering. The news brings us a steady flow of images that you can’t turn away from even as they strike terror in your heart.
The instinct to hide your eyes and continue on without a backward glance is in some ways self-protecting. Unfortunately it is an unacceptable part of being a follower of Christ. It was Isaiah who wrote these words.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
These words haunt me. They offer a road map to a significant life if one is willing to open their eyes and understand we are citizens of the world. I, like many, have a national pride in my country but my true citizenship is to the world.
What hurts my brother or sister in the farthest parts of this planet hurt me also. Just as God sees no denominational walls, He doesn’t see us by race, creed or gender. We are mankind and we are connected.
In this mad world filled with so much suffering, to turn away and leave the responsibility of caring to another is narcissistic, and for the Christian it is the ugliest form of self-absorption. I am well aware that I don’t possess the resources to fix this world but I do have the one component to start a change. I have a broken heart.
As citizen of the world the grief in Japan and New Zealand is my grief. The hunger in Africa and Latin America is my hunger. The oppression of abusive governments is my problem. The pollution of this beautiful planet demands my voice speak up. The horrors of this mad world are my problem…because God made me a citizen of the world.
That beautiful face still hovers just beyond my vision. A little girl so smart and filled with potential, yet I doubt anyone asked her if she wanted to be out on the streets in the middle of the night selling trinkets. God don’t let my heart grow hard…don’t let my vision dull with apathy…don’t let me forget that I’m part of all of this. We are all your people and it breaks your heart to watch what is happening. You’ve always looked for someone to be your hands, your feet, your voice, and your heart.