Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Peas and Manna

Today is Blog Action Day. Across the globe, bloggers are writing about poverty and hunger. I think I'll join them.

Last week my MOPS group collected canned and nonperishable foods for a local food bank. I took my kids to the store and let them each pick out a canned vegetable that they would like to give to someone who didn't have any food. (They both picked out peas, the only canned vegetable they'll even allow near their plates.) In the store, our conversation went something like this:

Mama: Boys, let's all pick out a vegetable for the MOPS food drive. It's for families who don't have any food in their kitchens.

Jackson: Why don't they have any food?

Ei: Can I have some candy?

Mama: Some people are not as lucky as we are. They don't have money to buy groceries.

Jackson: Well, what do they eat then?

Ei: Can I buy cookies?

Mama: People like us who have plenty of food help out by giving them some.

Jackson: Don't they need more than 2 cans of peas?

Ei: Can I ride in the cart?

Mama: Yes, they will need more than 2 cans of peas. We'll pick out a couple of things and give them. And everyone else in the group will give some things too. We have to work together to help people.

Jackson: Will the people come to church and get the food?

Ei: Can I hold the peas?

Mama: No, they won't come to the church. Someone from our church will take all the food to a big place where they keep all the extra food. And then they will pass it out to people who need it later.

Jackson: Why can't they just come to the store to get it?

Ei: Can I get out of the cart?

Mama: They don't have enough money to buy it.

Jackson: Why can't the store give them food if they need it?

And there you have it. A simple solution to a very difficult problem. My 4 year old could look around the huge grocery store at the stocked aisles and bulging displays and see that there's plenty of food for everyone. That's a fact. There's enough food for every person on this earth. The issue clearly isn't quantity. No, the problem is that we just don't share very well.

My children have been learning the story of Moses and the Exodus for the last couple of months. We've been talking about the years that Moses and the Israelites wandered the desert and how they had to trust in God for their needs to be met. The people were hungry, so God sent Manna. Every morning their meals were, quite literally, dropped right in front of their feet. There was a catch: God told them to only gather what they needed for the day and no more. Of course, because they were human, they attempted to hoard the Manna, just in case God forgot them one day. The excess Manna decayed and became inedible. God just wouldn't stand for greed and mistrust in Him. I feel like we are living like the Israelites. How much excess do we store up "for a rainy day?" How often do we go to the pantry and whine that there isn't anything to eat when, in reality, our kitchens are bulging with enough food to feed us for weeks (or even months)? God has provided enough for everyone. If we hoard it up, it can't reach those who need it, and God will surely not stand for this greed.

I'm afraid I don't really have a solution for world hunger or poverty. I'm sure that it all boils down to being a good sharer. Jackson's right: it's going to take a lot more than 2 cans of peas.

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