I’m no economist (although I am the mother of an aspiring economist, but we don’t want to talk about how we see things differently), but I can identify with the idea that if you have one bee sting, you are more likely to get it treated than if you have several. Why treat only one, when the others are still going to hurt so bad? Or dents in the car — if you have one or two, it seems urgent to get them fixed, but if you can’t, and you get more, then why bother?
I don’t know whether the author is on to something or not by applying this to explain issues of poverty. But I do know the feeling of being so overwhelmed that it seems useless, if not impossible to even fix one problem. What good will it do? Life will still stink. Most everything you do will still be painful. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
When I hit that point in life, I was lucky. I had good health insurance. I had a doctor who went to bat for me to protect my job. I had a home, a husband, kids. I had an idea that maybe there was a God who might keep me from total disaster.
But what happens to those who are stuck in that cycle of poverty and hopelessness? No health insurance? No experience that tells them that there are others they can lean on? Maybe, there isn’t anyone to lean on anyway.
I don’t know the answers. I do know that the support of others – emotional, financial, physical – can make a difference. I know that someone stepping in to help heal the first and second and third bee stings, or fix up several of the dents can move a person to a place where it might seem worth the effort required to heal the remaining stings or dents. I know that it often only really helps if treatment for the first few stings comes in such a way that it doesn’t put the recipient deeper in debt to someone.
Jesus reminds us of how we serve Him:
When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty you gave me a drink…When I needed clothing, you gave them to me…
Nowhere in that passage does He mention running a tab or setting a time limit so that it could be paid back.
My hope is that the experience of surviving and being given a shot at becoming whole will help me to understand that my job is not to judge, but to love and accept another wherever they are right now.