[from May 17, 2013]
"We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy & their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part."
(2 Corinthians 8:1-2)
Paul was taking a massive collection to support the "mother church" back in Jerusalem when he wrote these words to the church in Corinth. He was bragging on the sacrificial giving (with JOY!) that the Macedonian churches made to the cause. But when I read this during breakfast today, my heart immediately was transported to the Philippines.
I've had the pleasure of traveling to the Philippines twice with groups from Hawaii, connected with Compassion International. Both times I was blessed by the amazing joy in the midst of poverty I experienced from the Compassion projects. Some of the poorest of the poor shared so much love with us - because of the hope they have in Jesus Christ! I was overwhelmed, to say the least.
I think sometimes our "things" get in the way of our spiritual journeys, here in the "first world." When we learn to let go of the stuff we think is so important, we begin to experience the true JOY of God's kingdom, as we share in the blessing of others.