Power outages. Rolling blackouts. Water boil orders. Water shut-offs. Iced roads making transportation more hazardous than cold, hunger, and thirst. How are you doing after the storm?
Many of us had our perspectives shifted and broadened about what is precious to us. Clean water – ANY water! Wool socks and thick blankets. 4-wheel drive vehicles, or just clear roads. In lamenting with a fellow storm survivor, we remarked on how thankful we were for the “little things” that had suddenly become big things. In the hardship of the week following Valentine’s Day, we realized we were so very grateful for any little scrap we could get, like a trickle of water from a faucet, a match to light a gas stove, a neighbor who brought a jug of water and a bag of groceries. Tree limbs hanging heavy with ice that held fast and didn’t break or cause any damage. A nearby community pool and the ability to flush a toilet!
These really are not little things, just things we take for granted because of the lives to which we have become accustomed. In our American experiences, even in down-and-out times, provision is near at hand and inconvenience has become the 8th deadly sin. We expect and demand immediate gratification. (This is a phenomenon that started during my lifetime. It has not been this way that long. What happened?!) In fear and anxiety, or just irritation, we too often lash out at others with ugliness rather than love.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us about a confrontation Jesus had with a woman who was experiencing life without some needful thing – the healing of her demon-possessed daughter. This is a very big thing indeed, to her. And a rather small matter, like mere crumbs, to the omnipotent God-with-us. The woman is not Jewish but she recognizes the divine power before her, and persists in her demand of him, her prayer to God, in spite of Jesus’ challenge that he was sent for Israel alone. She had a vision greater than that allowed by the world, a vision that Jesus was here for the salvation of the world, not for a particular people to which He was born, in which He shared family and heritage and story. This is a very big, very good thing. After Jesus asserts it’s not right for what belongs to Israel to go to someone else, the story ends in Matthew 15:27-28: She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
In and beyond the storm, little and big gestures of help and care were made, with no regard to culture or creed, no regard to class or race, no regard to gender, sexuality, religion, political affiliation, and on and on with the labels that sort us. A vision of invitation for all to be welcomed at the table of the master, with food, water, shelter, care was realized in the little things many did in those February days.
Depending on your perspective, the emergency response was astounding or just a matter of course. May we not be left unchanged from this recent experience. May we be like that pestering woman, demanding Christ’s presence, attention, and power for all who come seeking him and the healing and provision only Christ can and does offer. She wasn’t Jewish, and she didn’t convert, and her faith was great. May each one of us, individually and together as followers of Christ, not let the little things stop us from sharing a great faith ourselves.