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A very good friend of mine is right now driving to his grandparents house in Datona, FL from his condo In Ft. Lauderdale. He has had no electricity for several days and has officially run out of food (and the boy is skinny - so this is a problem). But these are the worst of his problems. Many are suffering far worse from the damage of the recent hurricanes, but when I try to be sympathetic to their plights, collectively or individually, I struggle to understand their pain. I don't know what "thousands dead and injured" looks like. The death toll from the earthquake in Pakistan is astronomical, but I can't wrap my head around the numbers. I can't see their faces.
But I can see his. I understand what he is going through because I was able to hear the relief in his voice today as he was driving himself to safety. I was able to compare that with the stress in his voice a few days ago as he sat alone in his small, dark, third-story condo recalling how he had never before been afraid for his life and didn't know what he would do next. I felt deeply for my friend. It was then that it hit me. A small voice from somewhere started asking, "and what about them?" Knowing my friend was in pain, as lucky as his situation is compared with countless others, gave a face to the disaster.
It was the same with the tsunami. My mind drew a blank on "100,000 dead." But it ever so clearly saw Ellen, my friend who survived in Thailand and who carries the experience with her every day. I tried to picture a hundred thousand Ellens, and it made me sick at the loss of life.
Not that there needs to be a point to this (I think you all get it), but it put into perspective for me again how skewed my sense of neighbor is. I need to keep reminding myself a neighbor is anyone I have an opportunity to love - anyone who has need around me. For me, they just need a face. What does Jesus look like again?
Jon--wow, I have felt the same way. My brother is a Marine who has been sent to Iraq 3x since the war started. I rememebr sitting in front of the TV each morning just to see if his name would come up on the list of deaths. I would always be thinking that all those names were like my brother; dear to someone, cherished by another, missed by many--and how real those names are to loved ones out there. It has given me a great respect and very personal connection to those whom I hear of that lost a loved one while serving. We were a fortunate family and he has returned safely all 3x. GOD IS GREAT!
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