As a young child, the girl knew hunger well and the stabbing pain that made it difficult to sleep. She wasn’t abused or neglected, but she didn’t understand why other children were not hungry like she was.
Sometimes her family had enough to eat and it was wonderful. The mood in the home was always better and the fighting between siblings vanished. But the times when there wasn’t enough money to feed the family took a toll on everyone. The smallest thing could spark a disagreement and usually escalated until someone tattled. Her father usually left when the arguments started. He couldn’t take the guilt, but he was too proud to ask for help.
The girl had seen a magazine advertising an island resort where all meals were all-you-can-eat and waiters brought drinks as people lay under umbrellas near the ocean. The pictures took her away from her need, and she began to dream of going there one day and living there. She made up her mind to work there. After working very hard the dream seemed possible when she had saved enough money to realistically travel there and back. It was difficult to arrange all the details, but she finally found a job on the resort soon after turning 18. Her friends and family didn’t understand her dream of living far away from everything and everyone she knew. They told her she would be back and regret it.
The first month there the girl saw everything as ideal. She was enchanted by the water, the beach, the breeze after sunset. Although she didn’t have the all-you-can-eat meals in the magazine, there was plenty of food to be had. Often she threw away platefuls of food barely touched, wanting to try something that looked tempting even when she was already stuffed. Working in the kitchen and as a server, the girl often saw the wasted food that was not consumed. She marveled at the bags of garbage, remembering her childhood.
One day as she took out yet another bag of garbage filled with imperfect fruit outside, she caught sight of a child jumping from the dumpster. The child seemed frightened, hurting himself in the landing and tried to quickly limp away. She whispered to the child and waved him to return. Slowly and cautiously he eased toward her, obviously in some pain. She knew he was hungry, she recognized it in his face. The pain was secondary; she must first meet his need. She reached into the bags she had just secured and pulled out a bruised apple. It was only slightly imperfect, and he wouldn’t mind.
The next day after sunset she found the boy had returned, with the leg still clumsily bandaged from the night before by her. His eyes were hopeful, and there was no more fear. She smiled in greeting and left to find the plate she had set aside for him. She had hoped to see him again, and carefully selected food that a child might like. Her heart sang as she watched him eat the first bite. He barely chewed, and didn’t seem to taste the food at all before the plate was empty. After several days she learned where he lived and visited his family with more food.
She was surprised when her father called her two months later. Normally it was her mother who called her collect to talk or share family news. After some small talk he asked what she did with her time. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling the truth and paused. Her father assumed she was seeing a boy and immediately began lecturing her. Finally, she interrupted him. It was nothing like that, she explained. She had started a food bank from unused food to help people who were hungry. After some discussion her father finally realized she wasn’t blaming him for her past, she was changing the future for others.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
In Matthew 4:11 we read of the battle being over, of the devil shrinking away. The attempts to trip Jesus had been answered with words the devil could not argue with, but it is obvious the ordeal took a toll because of the angels’ visit. In reflecting on 4:10 I was so certain Jesus should act like a champion, like a great king, and cheered that He did. How fickle I am because today rather than celebrate the victory, I find myself celebrating that my hero suffered and understands suffering! This isn’t because I want a weak savior. It must be because a weakened state is closer to my own heart right now, rather than victory.
This week an important person to me died, and it still hurts. I admired and respected my coworker greatly, and felt the pain of loss in every breath after the news. I don’t mean that I wanted the suffering he endured to continue, but loss still means mourning even if suffering has ended. It wasn’t solved by platitudes or good thoughts; and it didn’t get any better if I ignored it. When I turned my sorrow to God I felt no judgment or shallow sympathy, I felt as one being held while weeping, understood and loved. That doesn’t mean I was rescued, or have all the answers; but I got what I needed most.
The angels came after Jesus had endured something very challenging. Sure, they could have showed up before or during the confrontation – but it was God’s decision that it be after. I love the happy ending of a story like the one above that involved hardship, but I don’t enjoy the challenge part in my own life. I wasn’t created to have an easy life and have everything I wanted, as hard as that is to remember or realize that. My purpose is to glorify God in the lion’s den, in the depths of despair, and in times of joy. How blessed I am today and always.