On Sunday, in a little local church in the Philippines, we heard a sermon on Matthew 6:19-21, the passage in which Jesus discusses storing up treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
As I sat in church, hearing the passage read, I realized how incredibly applicable it was to my life – my suburbia, middle-class, twenty-something, hazelnut-latte-to-go, air-conditioned life. Yes, I love Jesus, and I’m learning about who He is in my life, but the truth of the matter is that I am more concerned daily if I can’t find my wallet or my phone than if I’ve spent time in prayer. And while I sat there, feeling convicted and slightly embarrassed, I began to think of all the people our team has met this week. There are so many individuals in Tacloban who have lost, quite literally, everything. Adults and children, as young as 5 years old, who lost fathers, mothers, siblings, and homes in the typhoon Yolanda in 2014. And yet, these people, who have seen disaster in its truest form, who have lost everything, have chosen strength rather than despair. Rather than bitterness, they have chosen gentleness and peace. Rather than anxiety, they have chosen hope.
On Tuesday morning, a few members of us participated in a feeding at an elementary school. We were met by smiles and high fives and laughter and silliness, and it was contagious. There was a little girl named Angel, who came confidently up to us and sang every song she had ever learned about Jesus. She, too, had lost her entire family in the typhoon. But still, she sang. We asked her why she likes to sing, and she said, “I am happy because Jesus makes me to sing”. Doesn’t that make you want to shout for joy? Despite all of her heartache, she has found a reason to sing. She needs no reason but Jesus. Joy flowed out of her when she sang, and even more when she spoke of the Lord’s goodness and mercy to her. My prayer this week is that we as a team learn to speak with joy about the Lord, just like Angel. That we would better understand what it means to have treasures stored up in heaven. That we would cling to Christ because He is our hope, He is our song, He is our life.