Sugar, Philippians, and Drought

Posted on October 21, 2011

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What do these three things have in common? Well, right now for me, a lot.

SUGAR

A few days ago I began to consider giving up sugar until Thanksgiving. My initial thinking was that it is flu season, and since sugar inhibits the immune system, why not give it up for a while? A healthy Claire is a happy Claire.

I was also reflecting on the way we celebrate in the U.S., particularly when it comes to food. I realize how sad this sounds, but I never quite feel like holiday “feasts” are very special. Perhaps it is because, in the past, the weeks (and months) before Thanksgiving I have been chowing down on Costco pumpkin pie, homemade apple crisp, brownies, gingerbread lattes, and hot chocolate, just to name a few, all in moderation, of course :). The problem is, even consumed in moderation, these “treats” stop feeling special as they become a part of every day life. So, when Thanksgiving rolls around, it doesn’t actually feel like a celebratory feast. My solution: give up sugar until Thanksgiving, and without a doubt, the pumpkin pie and pecan pie will feel truly like a feast.

As I thought about this, a new train of thought entered: It is likely our last autumn in Spokane. It may be years before we are able to again watch the leaves change to gold and flaming red outside our windows. This could be our last chance to take long walks in our neighborhood, shuffle through the fallen leaves bundled up in scarves and hats, and come home to snuggle in front of the fire while sipping hot cocoa and eating pumpkin bread.

Sounds delightful, right?

And it just doesn’t seem the same if I omit all the sugary fall treats that give me an excuse to add pumpkin and cinnamon to every recipe. So, alas, I am undecided.

PHILIPPIANS

This book of the Bible astounds me. Here is this guy, Paul, who has been thrown in jail, and he is absorbed with thoughts of others, praying for them, rejoicing with them, and writing them a letter to tell them of his joy for them. I am pretty confident that if I was thrown in jail because I believed in Jesus, at least 90% of my time I would be hanging up the decorations for my pity party. Just being honest. Not Paul, though. He hangs up decorations (or he would have, if he had them) to joyfully celebrate how God is accomplishing good things in spite of and because of his imprisonment.

That is crazy joy. (I mean, seriously, if you saw someone in prison and they were overflowing with joy, you would probably think they were a little of their rocker.)

prison cell + praying for people hundreds of miles away = joy

Um, what?! I have always been bad at math, but this REALLY doesn’t add up.

As I read through this letter, there is another element there: Jesus. Yup, not to get all Sunday School answer-ish on you, but this is the factor with which the whole thing explodes.

(prison cell + praying for people hundreds of miles away)Jesus = joy

DROUGHT

I have been following the drought on the Horn of Africa for the last 3 months. It is atrocious. There is a righteous anger in me when I think that this was totally preventable, but that due to a laundry list of factors, prevention didn’t happen.

This morning I watched a video uploaded by World Vision. Essentially they put together a bunch of raw footage. No music, no narration, just video and wind of the people living in the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya. There is no commentary or staggering statistics carefully included to tug on your heartstrings. Thus, watching it, there is a blank slate for the Holy Spirit to write on my heart with God’s perspective. At least, that is what happened when I watched it. Somehow, it seemed more real, not  like a sensationalized news broadcast (though I do appreciate the BBC for their less sensationalized coverage of the calamity.)

People living in these camps they get perhaps a few handfuls of dry beans to cook up for their family. No pumpkin pie, no gingerbread lattes, no hot cocoa. No beautiful leaves changing outside their windows, just dry, cracked land and thorny leafless bushes.

CONVERGENCE

These all seems to come together in my head. I want to give up sugar until Thanksgiving. I want to do it with joy, joy in all the beauty and delectable aspects of fall that I still get to experience. And I want a heart that feels keenly God’s heart for those living in the midst of famine. I fully realize that me giving up a luxury does not some how magically provide the bare necessity for those living in the midst of famine, but my heart feels heavy with the weight of it. I am compelled to not just go along like everything is hunky dory. In my own, very, very small way, it is my statement (mostly to myself) of solidarity with these people. My prayer is that every time I find myself craving a sweet Autumn treat that I pray for those who have barely enough to get by.

I thank God for all I do have because today in northern Kenya there is a family who is thanking God for their dried beans.

(no sugar + praying for drought victims)Jesus = joy

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