Lent: Gaining through sacrifice
by Christina Bradic, World Vision’s Advocacy Integration team
Thirst is greater than a need for water.
Lent is honestly one of my favorite times of the year. I look forward to Ash Wednesday mass and appreciate the peace in letting go of the things that distract us from God. These 40 days are a time to re-center yourself and refocus on what truly matters. Lent is often seen as a time of sacrifice, but oftentimes sacrifice leads to greater treasure.
Coming from a global health and policy background, when I think of water, I normally think of water in numbers:
– 768 million people are without a source of safe drinking water
– 1,600 children under 5 die each day from causes related to unclean water or a lack of sanitation and hygiene (the same things that are responsible for more than 50% of childhood malnutrition)
In my head, if we can provide clean water, hygiene, and sanitation these numbers can go away. Children are no longer getting sick, families have water to cook with, and we all have a cleaner environment- the physiological needs have been met- but will these people still thirst?
Every day in my job I ask people to sacrifice. Five minutes to read and educate themselves about an issue. A few minutes to call their Senator or send an email to Congress. One minute sending a tweet or sharing a fact with their friend. I speak to people every day, and no one has ever asked me to stop. In fact, people often say thank you. They tell me about their success and their joy, which all started with me asking them to sacrifice. I ask people to advocate for the poor. In the end, the poor benefit, but so do the advocates. They become empowered, inspired, and grateful for the opportunity to use their voice.
Recently, I had the privilege of meeting with Pamela Shao from World Vision, Tanzania. In one of our initial emails, she said something that struck me-
“Water is a constant presence in the communities under my project. Being an arid and semi-arid area, water scarcity is a driving force of poverty as people walk long distances in search of it, leaving no time nor energy for anything else. How do you grow crops, do a business, and have creative ideas when your mind is constantly searching, finding and planning on the use of a scarce resource?”
How do you grow crops, do a business, and have creative ideas when your mind is constantly searching, finding and planning on the use of a scarce resource? The impact of not having clean water is more than physiological. It is mental, consuming, and can take away the part of us that makes us thrive, complete and uniquely human. If you are an advocate and speak out for clean water, you have been given so much more than just a drink.
In John 4:14, Jesus says, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” We have been given a physical body with a need for water, but thirst is more than a lack of hydration- thirst is a strong desire. If I drink, am I complete? If I drink, but do not create, expand, care, or love, am I complete? What if I have the water, but others around me are still thirsty, can my thirst be fully quenched?
The thing is, sacrifice does not always lead to loss. Sacrifice can be that thing that makes us more complete- the water Jesus supplies that will not only rid us of our thirst, but bring us that spring of water welling up to eternal life. I believe this spring comes from not only addressing our need, but the needs of those around us.
“At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.’ Hungry not only for bread-but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing-but naked of human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks-but homeless because of rejection. This is Christ in distressing disguise.”