My daughter loves swimming, so we spend a fair amount of time at the national aquatic center. Built for the 2017 Central American games, the center is world-class. From the stands, you can see not only the world-class pools, but also many of the best sights in Managua. Palm trees (both real and neon), parks, the capital building, national monuments, and more dazzle your eyes. I would spend money just to sit in the stands for an hour to enjoy the view. If, however, one goes on the opposite side of the complex, one sees an entirely different world. From this perch you can see one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, where people endure countless difficulties. If you look closely, you can see that many of the homes have been constructed out of whatever materials people could get their hands on. Roofs are pieced together from random rusted out pieces of metal, with bricks precariously holding them in place. This is a view hardly anyone would want to gaze at for very long, a view of difficulty and struggle.
When I visit this complex, I am reminded of a tendency most of us have. Far too often we turn away and ignore many serious problems in our world, preferring to focus on our own desires and comfort. It’s not that we can’t see the problems. Our eyes and ears regularly see and hear about a plethora of hurts and problems occurring around the globe. The problem is often not that our eyes and ears are closed, but that our hearts and minds are closed. We see so many of the material, physical, and spiritual problems of our world, but for whatever reason we tend to close our hearts and minds to them.
During Jesus’s earthly ministry he visited approximately 200 towns in the region of Galilee. In every town crowds came to see him, some to ask for help, others to ask questions, some to quench their curiosity, and others to mock and reject Him. In each and every crowd Jesus saw needs not just with His eyes, but with His heart, soul, and mind.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38
See, every time Jesus saw someone he saw their needs. He saw people that needed love and compassion. He saw people broken in a myriad of ways, and desired to see them made whole. And what did he say the problem was? Too few people willing to truly see these needs and respond to them with their hearts, souls, and minds. My challenge to you this week is to open your self to the world around you. What needs do you see? How can you pray for those needs? How can you respond to those needs? There are innumerable needs all around us. Are you willing to be the laborer who responds to them?