Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

Hope and Human Suffering

November 3, 2009
mother teresa

Mother Teresa

This past week, our family had the wonderful opportunity to visit Mother House, the home of Mother Teresa in Kolkata. You can see the small, austere bedroom where she stayed. Her tomb is there, and there is a small museum documenting the life and work of Mother Teresa.

I am humbled when I think about how this woman gave her life to serve the poor and needy. And Kolkata is full of poor and needy people. They slept on the sidewalk just outside the gate of the compound where we stayed. They came up to us on the street, begging for money or food.

Dirty children walked up to us, touched our arms and called, “Aunty, please…. Please, Aunty.” Wrinkled old women, who probably looked much older than they were because of their harsh circumstances, looked hollow-eyed, searching for some relief. And, most heartbreaking of all, mothers with babies too small for their age would approach, holding out their baby’s empty bottle, a graphic picture of their need. Suffering was everywhere.

It was into the midst of such human suffering that Jesus came and walked. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, and touched lives. Mother Teresa also lived and walked among the suffering souls of Kolkata. She touched lives by nursing and comforting the sick, feeding the hungry, and loving the unlovable.

Where is God in the midst of human suffering? When faced with those who suffer, we become God incarnate. We become the hands and feet of Jesus. How? We packed up leftover food from a meal and gave it to a child on the street on our way back to our rooms. We discreetly tucked a few rupees into the hands of mothers with babies or old women. We stopped and paid a street vendor to feed a hungry child who was following us.

But we’re just one family, and there are untold thousands of poor, hungry, homeless people struggling to fill their empty bellies and stave off the hunger pangs. In the face of so much suffering, what difference did we make? Well, we made a difference to that mother with her baby. That baby got to eat for one more day. That mother didn’t have to listen to her baby cry with hunger that day. We made a difference to the little boy who got to eat when we paid the street vendor to feed him. He waved happily over his shoulder, already gobbling his food, as we walked away. And we made a difference to the ones who ate our leftovers. They went to sleep with satisfied stomachs that night.

Each of us has the chance to make a difference for one or two or three every day. We can become Jesus to the people around us, extending His love and compassion to those we come into contact with wherever we might be. We can shine a little light into the dark corners we discover. We can give hope for one more day. And, yes, we can make a difference in someone’s life, as we share Jesus’ love in practical ways with those who are less fortunate that we are.

–Debbie Ong