My back is killing me. It’s a lower back pain that feels like at any moment something is going to explode, and doesn’t allow me to do simple things like sit or bend over. It’s frustrating, unsettling, and very humbling. But it’s worth it.
This past Sunday, I (and thousands of others) ran the LA 13.1 Half Marathon. The race was set beautifully along Southern Californian beaches like Venice and Playa del Rey. All the people I knew who ran did it for the benefit of World Vision, an organization that provides long-term help and solutions for people suffering from poverty, hunger, drought, and disease. Together, all of Team World Vision raised enough money to save 4,400 lives. Trinity Church (my team) alone raised enough to save 240 people.
Specifically, we raised money for clean water projects in African countries like Zambia. The situation is so dire that 4,200 children die each day from drinking dirty water. Millions are affected. This is daily reality for them.
So, what’s the connection between my back pain and helping people in Zambia? A year ago, I ran a half marathon for the same reason, and as a result of poor training and unwise lifting methods, I injured my back worse than I ever have before. For about two weeks, I could hardly walk or even stand. For at least a month, I was walking crooked. It was by far the worst injury I have ever had. I am doing my best to keep it from getting there this time around.
The answer to the question is this: there is no connection. My back pain is nothing compared to the daily suffering experienced by millions every single day. I can get myself to the chiropractor, let him work his magic, do some stretching at home, take it easy, and in a couple weeks I’m back to normal. The people in Zambia have no way of getting water on their own, no way to just figure it out, no money to throw at the problem, nowhere to turn if someone else doesn’t help them. Something as basic as water, which most people–myself included–take for granted all the time, is a distant dream for people in countries like Zambia.
I’m not trying to paint myself as a martyr, and I’m not going the back route to try and get kudos or sympathy from anyone. If the back pain is the worst thing that happens to me, as a result of running to benefit the people of Zambia, then I’ll take it. Many pessimists will say this is a living example of the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” I choose to believe that no pain need be wasted, no price is too high, and no person can dissuade me, when given the chance, the privilege, to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. For me, this is sometimes what happens when I choose to, in spite of the strain on my back, take up my cross and be like Jesus.