When we look at our world, it seems that everywhere we look there are people in need. And out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we give to the homeless, the hungry, and those who do not have the bare necessities of life. But even when we give, it is easy to feel discouraged. There is so much need, and we can’t help everyone. Even when we are giving sacrificially, it can seem as though we’re not making a difference at all. How can we know we’re giving enough? And how can we avoid despair and feeling like no matter how much we give it won’t ever be enough?
A listener recently called in to The Patrick Madrid Show to ask about this. She works in homeless services and does street outreach, and on the one hand feels as though she should be giving more to the poor, but on the other hand she sees firsthand how much need there is, and knows there will always be people she can’t help. Patrick responded:
“This is a struggle that I share with you. Because we want to have the nice things in our lives that we have – a home, a car, Netflix, and things like that – but we could always give more.
Like Father Rocky likes to say, give until you smile. When you find that sweet spot where you are giving a lot more than you ever thought you could, but it’s making you happy, and you feel like you’re really helping when you do that. It seems like that would be the goal to shoot for.
And I would say the principle is do the best you can and do as much as you can with what you have. Then you’re on the right path, and I believe that is pleasing to God.
I’ll leave you with a story. A guy is walking along the beach after a big storm the day before. And the waves had churned up onto the beach all kinds of driftwood, flotsam and jetsam, and among other things were these thousands of starfish all along this shore. The waves had churned them up onto the shore and they were dying in the sun.
As the man is walking he sees this little girl, and she is just skipping around from one starfish to another, picking it up and throwing it back into the water. And as he gets closer he says, ‘Little girl, what are you doing?’ And she says, ‘I’m saving the starfish.’ He sort of laughs and he says, ‘Well, there are countless starfish, there are thousands and thousands of starfish. What does it matter?’ And she held up a starfish in her hand, looked at it, and said, ‘Well, it matters to this one.’ And she tossed the starfish back in the water so it could live.
I’ve always been taken by that story, because it’s a beautiful way of remembering that we are called to be person-specific, to do the best we can, and yes help groups of people, but all the more to help people individually and just do what we can. She was never going to get to all those starfish, but at least for the ones that she could get to, it made all the difference.”
Listen to the full conversation below: