You gotta love the gym. Where else can you be updated on all the evils in the world all at once? TVs everywhere on every channel can give you updates from 6 points of view simultaneously. War in Israel. Chaos in Iraq. Mess in Washington. Mayhem in Detroit. Ebola in Liberia. Actors killing themselves.

Good Morning, America! It’s another day in our broken, messed up world.

You can turn off the TV, but you can’t turn off the problems. They are there.

So…what is there to do? What to do but put your head phones in and run. Run.

I can’t fix the Middle East. I can’t fix poverty. I can’t fix drugs and depression. I feel like I should do something, but what? And what would matter anyway?

Despite trying to shut it out, I can’t help but keep asking myself those questions while I’m running. Yep, I’m watching six TVs playing six different channels, I’m listening to something else on my headphones, and at the same time, I’m trying to solve the world’s problems in my head. It’s little wonder I’m exhausted before I even break a sweat.

This morning, my phone was playing Kisses from Katie, the recent story about of young lady who is trying to “do something.” She moved to Uganda after high school where she has adopted 13 children and helps provide for 600 more through a non-profit organization called Amazima.

I have a lot of respect for Katie Davis and what she is doing to show the love of Christ in a destitute corner of the world. However, although she is investing her whole heart into the lives of needy orphans, she too confesses that she feels some days like she is trying to empty the ocean with an eye dropper. Every little drop takes resources, but it is just a little drop in a sea of sickness and poverty. Even with her every effort, the world doesn’t look much different in the grand scheme of things.

Katie opined that God didn’t create more people in the world than He provided for. And that’s true. Her conclusion was that those with more should share with those with less. And we should.

But I don’t think that’s the whole answer.   How many billions of dollars in aid has the US poured into remote parts of the world and what do we have to show for it? We can pump billions of dollars into the Middle East and Africa—as we have done—and it will still be a mess. In addition to giving nationally, we can give individually. But it’s kind of like dropping 8,000 meals on a mountain hiding 40,000 refugees…a good thing; but how long can you go on 1/5 of a meal?  

Katie has also worked to help Ugandans “help themselves” which is a good thing, but I noticed that, like many organizations, Amazima primarily derives its support from people who are in the US or by selling handmade jewelry to people in the US.

Stick with me here; I’m trying to solve the worlds’ problems and it takes a little time to explain.

We can’t all quit our jobs and move to Uganda. Because if we did, we would simply be one of the far too many starving Africans. We could all quit our jobs, move to Africa, and try to find work there, but that seems a little silly seeing as we had jobs here that we are probably better trained for and adapted to than what we might find in a village in Buziika. Not only would we all need Amazima, but there wouldn’t be an Amazima because there would be no one to give.

So the end result of that plan to fix the world has everyone starving. Cross that one off the list.

So, what to do about the world’s problems?

I’m convinced of a few things: We should stand with Israel. We should fight against radical Islam. We should try to help the sick and feed the poor. But frankly, more than anything, I believe that we should live ordinary lives. Go to work. Take care of our families. Shovel coal.

Hear me on this.

What the world needs is not another leader. Not a movement. Not an aura of peace. What the world needs is healthy families working hard and providing for themselves and others.   At the end of the day, that is what works. That is what stamps out poverty. That is what cures AIDS. That is what diffuses conflict. That is what would solve most of the policy debate in Washington.

If people around the world understood the concepts of family and hard work, it would go a long way toward solving the evils in the world. Of course, those are both biblical concepts, so most of the world is going to try to find a more modern way to achieve a peaceful, prosperous existence. But they won’t.

Some of us may travel to distant countries. Some of us may start organizations. Some of us may be leaders. But most of us will do the most good by showing the world that family and industry work— husbands and wives who love each other providing for their own and then a bit extra—create the most successful nations.

That means, for some of us, the most important thing we can do is to shovel coal. Go to work. Be productive. Come home. Take care of the people God has placed in our lives. It isn’t glamourous. It’s not exciting. It wouldn’t be a good plot for an Indiana Jones movie. And apparently, it isn’t good fodder for the morning news.

Don’t be ashamed to enjoy what the blessing of God and hard work have given you.  Share what you have. Give till it hurts. But enjoy the fruit of your labor.

Some of us have an eye dropper. Some of us have a coal shovel. If you have one, don’t rip on the person who has the other; cheer them on. We may not win over the rest of the world, but we can keep from becoming them only one way—working to provide for ourselves and our families and just a little bit more.

One thought on “Shoveling Coal

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