Folks are having a tough time financially. 2013 has been a tough year for military families. Many were impacted by the furlough that started in July. Their paychecks were reduced by 20%. Others have endured hardship due to the recent government shutdown. While most military personnel were held harmless during this year’s budget battles, there are some who were unemployed for seventeen days and will not receive back pay for any of that time. Others are still waiting for the call to return to work.
When tough times arrive, you quickly determine what is necessary in your life.
I stopped wearing a watch in 2011. I didn’t really need it anymore. I had just come back from a deployment in the Horn of Africa. Over there, few people wear a watch because it is a luxury they cannot afford. Folks are primarily concerned with the basic needs of life; food, water, clothing, and shelter. A watch in Africa is simply an unnecessary item. An extravagance to many and a poor use of money to most.
I had it pretty good in Africa. Anyone was reminded of that fact when you left post and journeyed into town. There you saw people living in shacks, shanties, and cardboard boxes. You saw women selling illegal drugs on the street corner like you would see a hot dog vendor back home. You saw orphans who had been abandoned due to poverty, prostitution, HIV, or AIDS. On post, the Army fed me, gave me clothes, provided a bed at night, and paid me to work. Yes, I had it better than most of the people I saw everyday.
Americans may not realize it, but we are some of the wealthiest people in the world. In 2011, that fact became crystal clear. Unfortunately, it took an overseas deployment to see it and truly comprehend that reality.
If you made $1,500 last year, you are in the top 20% of the world’s income earners. If you made $25,000 or more annually, you are in the top 10% of the world’s income earners. If you made $50,000 or more annually, you are in the top 1% of the world’s income earners.
People may not take comfort with those figures, but it is a great reminder that even in a time of furloughs and shutdowns, God has blessed us and provides for our needs. During the good times, we do not think about the necessary, because choices are not being forced upon us. During the tough times, we see how important charity, compassion, and generosity truly are because we ourselves are in need.
We are all challenged to find what is truly necessary in life. And when that conviction hits us, there should be a response to share our abundance with others. Scripture reminds us that our value is not based on our valuables, just read Luke 12:15. In fact, we are called to be a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-8), to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27), and also care for the poor (Galatians 2:10).
As we approach Thanksgiving, let us take stock of our lives, find what is necessary, share what God has provided, and thank our Creator for the blessing of His tender care.