toward the adequacy of a thanksgiving thought

In his photo essay of unintelligible conflicts, malaria, and starvation in Central African Republic, TIME’s William Daniels identifies a generalized dearth of grace as “chronic humanitarian crisis.” It seems a compelling diagnosis, but I am not sure what exactly it means.

Starvation, disease, rape, murder, and war: I cannot begin to ponder or even imagine such conditions as those in Mr. Williams’ images; nor do I wish that I could. Does this make me an afflicter of these people with whom I find few if any common referents? No. A receiver of certain common graces does not make one an afflicter. I am far too unimportant to have any such impact. Does the fact that my cat routinely receives medical care prevent anyone in Central African Republic from receiving any medical care at all, perhaps ever in his or her lifetime? No; my cat is not the cause of the socio-political corruption that prevents distribution of medical resources anywhere on earth. He is important, but not that important.

I can only be thankful: thankful for the gracious blessings I have received, knowing God had no duty to bestow any at all, nor any duty to continue them. I can pray for the light of the Gospel of our sin bearer, Jesus Christ, to dispel the darkness of those places where the gates of Hell–the sphere of chronic humanitarian crisis operations–now holds sway but will not prevail.

That is why it is right to give thanks and praise before I say, “Amen.”

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