“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV
The Boy and the Starfish
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.
As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied, “I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
Before I tell you the boy’s reply, allow me to share day 1 of our medical missions for Batch 2.
It was my first time in Tacloban and sadly, it had to be after the storm.
It was beyond description.
What storm can bend steel?
What wind can displace cars and houses?
What waters can cover the tallest coconut trees?
What surge can crumple metal like paper?
It was like all the giants were there – the Titans, Greek gods and goddesses, Goliath, the Gladiators, the Avengers…(everyone you can think of!) – and they were all at war with each other.
Unbelievable. Unimaginable. Indescribable.
What do you do? What do you think? What do you feel? I could not process it yet…
The first barangay we visited was in Samar and it had an endless line of patients. Almost all cases were not storm-related. But we still helped much.
One of the life coaches was able to interview a couple of fishermen who lost their boats and they were hoping they could go back to fishing soon. But I was saddened by their reason for desperately wanting to work again – “Kailangan namin ng mga bangka… Para makabili na ng lapad.” (We need boats so we can buy liquor). I just kept praying for an inspiring story that we could take home with us. But I felt that God was correcting my prayer because he was showing me something deeper…something beyond the devastation of the storm which is the devastation of our whole country. So many people living in poverty even before the storm hit. So much to fix in the soul of the Filipino. It made me feel so angry and cry-ee and you just want to point fingers and put the blame on others who have no shame. But like tears and pity, asking “why” and blaming also don’t do much. It doesn’t really change things.
The team was constantly reminded that we were there not to just give fish but to teach the people how to fish. One life coach said: let’s not give relief goods but let’s help them RE-LIVE. It seems an impossible task. How do you truly help them re-live? Where and how do you start?
What impossibility are you facing right now?
Are you trying to help someone who’s too proud to be helped?
Are you faced with a project that you feel is beyond your capabilities?
Are you struggling with a problem that seems unsolvable?
Here’s what I learned in Tacloban while we were facing an overwhelming task:
Just do what you have to do & serve Him best.
One life at a time. One task at a time. One day at a time.
Keep trusting Him whether the answers come or not. He is God.
He’s really the One who’s Unbelievable, Unimaginable, and Indescribable.
This kept me sane and grounded and working.
Here’s the ending of the story above:
The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied,
“I made a huge difference to that one!”
Do Something – Matthew West