Thought for today:
"During this festive season, as we spend time with our families and loved ones within the comfort and security of our own homes, I urge you to say a prayer for those countless others throughout the world who know no such comfort and peace.
Thirteen years ago today, the world witnessed one of the greatest natural disasters of all time when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake created a devastating Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. In less than 24 hours over eighteen countries were affected and over 1.7 million people were left homeless and 250,000 people were left dead.
Families lost brothers, sisters, parents, children, cousins; generations wiped out before many had time to realise what was happening to them. Nobody who saw the images of despair upon the faces of the bereaved survivors can ever forget that look of utter loss which captured the minds of the world as we watched on in horror. Many survivors experienced a sense of purpose thereafter which shaped their attitude and lives to such an extent that numerous charitable institutions were created in the memory of their deceased and loved ones which helped to rebuild vast areas and produce new employment for the indigenous population.
The world instantly responded to the people's plight with aid, materials, medical needs and people-power when they first saw such images on their television screens. The mere fact that it was Boxing Day, coupled with the awareness that they watched from the comfort of their family rooms as they celebrated Christmas added a poignancy to the occasion that was undeniable.
Let us spend a few moments today in reflective thought and prayer for all of those families affected by this disaster thirteen years ago as we hold on that little bit tighter to the loved ones we are blessed to be in the presence of today. Just over one year ago when I was hanging onto my life attempting to survive a new and more aggressive cancer, it wasn't the medicines that brought me back, it was the sheer volume of love and the many prayers expressed on my behalf that administered my miracle of life. How great might be the result if we all prayed again for all those other people in the world struggling for their survival today.
The Tsunami in the Indian Ocean resulted in 1.7 million homeless people and left 250,000 dead. However hard it is to comprehend such a degree of suffering, never forget that there isn't one day in any year when there are fewer than 1.7 million people who are homeless throughout the world or 250,000 people do not die from some illness mankind has still to conquer.
The Tsunami of thirteen years ago had the impact it did on our senses because the number of people left for dead and destitution was concentrated in one specific region of the world, and this disaster enabled our minds to concentrate and focus on the totality of the loss. Had the 250,000 dead been scattered individually in different places all around the world, nobody would ever have known; yet we need to ask ourselves, would that have been any less of a loss to humanity? Would that have represented any less of a disaster in the world?
The same effect is daily present when someone rattles a charity box in front of us as we make our way around doing our family Christmas shopping, and we find ourselves sidestepping a direct confrontation. And that my dear friends, is precisely what we are doing; we are avoiding 'confrontation' of the uncomfortable meeting between our wealth and another's poverty, our health and another's illness, our accommodation and someone else's homelessness, our overfilled stomachs and the starvation of millions of others; our hope for the future and another's despair.
If you have ever wondered, 'When do I know when I've given enough?', my dear mother once provided me with the answer. She replied, ' Ask yourself, Billy, does it hurt you to give the amount you have given. Only if it does, can you know that you have!' Mum was essentially telling me that everything in life is proportionate and that the degree of sacrifice felt by me in my loss will be precisely the degree felt by them in their gain!
We are all guilty of sometimes not being charitable enough in our actions because we have found ways of avoiding 'confrontation' within our consciences that leave us feeling uneasy with the world. Were we to pass a charity box for abandoned children, we could probably overlook our action without any great difficulty. But were we to arrive home on a cold evening and find an abandoned baby on our doorstep crying with cold, whom among us, be they poor or privileged, would be able to ignore the obstruction and walk by the infant, leaving it to die of cold and starvation, instead of bringing it inside our home and providing its needs?
I bet that the very next time you go out to town, if you place a £1 coin in every charity box that is put in front of your nose, you will get back home at the end of your outing without needing to have outlaid £10 for charitable causes. If you don't believe me, try it and see!
God bless you all. Love Bill x "William Forde: December 18th, 2017.