One relative sent me a check and told me to treat myself. I felt very blessed to reflect that there was nothing I really wanted to buy to treat myself. I told my husband and my children they were the best birthday gifts ever!
I was reflecting through out the day at my contentment, and feeling much gratitude for my life and the many, many blessings I enjoy. The day would have been perfect except that I kept thinking of all the suffering in this world. My heart is heavy with the continuing suffering due to the recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and China. I am devastated whenever I read about the human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. It breaks my heart that so many people go to bed every night hungry and/or without a roof over their head. I feel anguish at the plight of parents around the world who cannot provide for the material needs of their beloved children. Being in Arizona, we can no longer count how many families we know who have lost their homes due to foreclosure and/or have a parent who is looking for work. As I write these words, we have friends and relatives who are struggling with life-threatening diseases.
As I was thinking about all this, and the frustration of an individual at not being able to solve these problems, I remembered Dr. King’s famous words from “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (April 16, 1963):
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an
inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever
affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
When I first heard those words long ago, I was a teenage atheist. I thought the words sounded noble but they did not ring true to me. Many people around the world (myself included) go about our daily lives, enjoying ourselves and never giving another thought to the suffering of others.
Now as an adult Christ follower, I understand these words very differently. I think that Dr. King was expressing a great spiritual truth. To me, he was referring to the Christian concept of the Body of Christ. Each of us is a component of that Body, we are all interrelated. If one part of the body is suffering or in pain, the other parts feel it too and cannot be fully at peace until that suffering or pain ceases.
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.