I love working out, and I also love food! Cooking a great meal makes me incredibly fulfilled and happy, and I’ve often read cookbooks like they were novels. So, knowing how passionate I am about food and fitness, and seeing all the workout videos and amazing recipes I share on social media, you might imagine me to be a super fit gal who eats only the finest foods.
Life can be so incredibly busy, and that can hinder our spiritual lives. It can be a struggle to find the time to commune with God, to spend time in His presence and in His Word. It’s as if there is a strong gravitational force that keeps us tethered to the burdens of daily life, making it increasingly difficult to stop and enter His presence, where we could find the spiritual strength and stamina to gracefully handle the burdens of life.
For the last few years, I’ve volunteered in a project teaching underprivileged youngsters. I was brought up in a typical Indian upper-middle-class family, and for most of my life, I’ve lived in an affluent neighborhood of the city where I was raised and have enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. So it was bit of a culture shock to set foot in the slums and experience life on a totally different level.
I stirred at the now-familiar sound of a baby crying plaintively. Behind the partitioning curtain, I could hear his mother’s despondent, weary voice trying to soothe him. I was fifteen, and I was in the children’s ward of the hospital after having undergone a tonsillectomy the day before. Contrary to expectations, there had been some complications, and now the pain in my throat and ears made it impossible for me to sleep deeply. I pressed the ice pack more tightly to my throat and face while I watched this exhausted, careworn mother pacing the narrow aisle as she rocked her tiny, weeping son.
I was reading the familiar story of the Good Samaritan1 from a well-illustrated cartoon Bible to a group of eight- to nine-year-old Sunday school students. It ended with the question Jesus asked: “‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”2
A sad part of my day is when I listen to the news. Almost everything is about people facing terrible situations. Both Christians and non-Christians face very painful suffering in one form or another in many parts of the world.
Much of the news is about some tragic circumstance somewhere. It ranges from financial crises to terrorism and wars and conflicts to drug-related violence to homelessness to persecution of Christians to devastation due to climate change to leftover land mines to lack of water in various places to horrible repressive governments.
God alone is aware of the vast quantity of heroic deeds taking place each day. If plaques were given for each, there wouldn’t be enough space on all the walls in the world! Perhaps this was on my husband Michael’s mind when he wrote this song in appreciation of the many unsung heroes.
My grandmother Sabina was a saint that I had the privilege to meet personally. She had no birth certificate, but went to school long enough to learn how to read well. She read her Bible daily and never missed a Sunday mass. She was kind and gentle, yet never missed an opportunity to teach us something to build our character, like the time my sister, my cousins, and I stole fruit from the neighbors. She only had to look at us when we got home to know we’d been up to mischief. After we admitted what we’d done, she had us go back and apologize.
I was ten years old when I first heard of Albert Schweitzer, and I was really impressed by his dedication—to the point that I started contemplating becoming a doctor like him and following in his footsteps in Africa. Those were the days when in order to know more about something or somebody, you had to look through books, encyclopedias, and most of the time, go to the library. In other words, curiosity didn’t find immediate satisfaction, and there was a certain amount of serendipity and mystery involved.
My worst fears came upon me the day I landed in the hospital. I dreaded entering the huge, ominous health factory, where impersonal doctors would study my symptoms with a distant professional look, and nurses would appear at my bedside at the strangest hours to stick me with a thermometer, an injection, or a cup of weak coffee.
God, get me out of here!