If you want to see God at work, or the best humanity has to offer, just scroll through the campaigns on GoFundMe’s site.
I have watched in recent days as friends and family and sometimes strangers rally around families in great need, donating thousands of dollars in a matter of hours to help in times of trial.
There is this family, whom I know only from the Internet, but whose story is unfolding in challenging and inspiring ways. Praying for their son has taught me again how to pray for what seems impossible. Has reconnected me to the Spirit, whom I have accused of being absent and silent. Has restored something in me that I didn’t know was lost. And as I watch the dollar number grow I think of the love they are receiving, the assurance that though they are the weary ones in the NICU, they are not alone or forgotten.
And there is another family I do not know–friends of friends–facing cancer, needing financial security during the hardest days of chemo and radiation so the woman/wife/mother does not have to fight alone. Their community, also, stepped in immediately, raising thousands of dollars in a single day.
You are not alone. We are with you. Let us hold you up when you are weary.
This is what the numbers following the dollar sign say to me.
Crafting a fundraising letter of any kind is tricky work. How do you convince people that your cause is worthy and important, especially when some people might not agree with you? We learned this when raising money to go to Kenya earlier this year. You can oversell the need with unnecessary drama or you can tell the truth and trust beyond yourself that the funds will come in.
Few people would argue against families facing health crises being a worthy cause. I’m grateful our immediate family hasn’t had to face that yet. Still, I wonder about the kind of words people would use to describe us if we were in need. In the midst of suffering, and often at death, we focus on all the good qualities of the person or people we want to help or remember, even magnifying them beyond the truth. (I’m not saying we’re lying. We just overemphasize the good and overlook the bad.) It’s not bad in and of itself.
But it makes me wonder if we’re creating a system that puts people in categories: deserving of help and not deserving of help. Maybe even those deserving of life and those not deserving of life.
Part of me doesn’t even want to suggest this because in my own mind, I’m a compassionate and loving person with a big heart, etc. (Feel free to make a gagging sound right now.) I am moved by the needs of people who are suffering and I want to do something to help.
But what if the person needing help was someone I didn’t like? Or, worse, someone I hated? Or, who had hurt people? What about that? Can you imagine if someone started a GoFundMe page for a horrible person? (Maybe there are some. It might be worth investigating.) Would you give money to help someone you felt was rotten or had been mean to you? If they were dying and needed your help to live, would you give it?
I’m asking myself the same questions.
I hear from people that Syrian refugees aren’t worth helping. They don’t say that outright, but their Facebook rants are laced with the truth. Sometimes I want to believe them, but then I read the stories that people like Brandon from Humans of New York are telling and I remember that just because a person is from Iraq or Iran or anywhere not here does not disqualify them from help. Their stories are not so different from mine.
Paul, to the Romans: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:6-8
Jesus, to His followers and anyone who could hear: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” –Matthew 5:44-46
I don’t know why good things happen to bad people or bad things happen to good people. I’m also not sure why we say it that way. I like to think I’m a good person, but I know better. I also know that I’m not all bad either.
The Doctor (Doctor Who, in case you’re confused) says it best: “We’re all just stories in the end.” If I walk into the middle of your story and it’s the part where you’re in trouble, I don’t want to have to read all the previous chapters and determine your worthiness before I offer my help.
We can sort that out later.
Let me be like the Good Samaritan who sees a need and acts on it, who gives beyond what is “deserving,” when his enemy is in trouble.
This is God at work.