My wife and I were two of the estimated 750 million people who watched Prince Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer forty years ago yesterday. Here’s what we didn’t know: Diana accidentally spilled some perfume on her wedding dress prior to the ceremony. Her makeup artist then told her to hold that spot on her dress as she was walking to make it seem that she was lifting the front of her dress so she wouldn’t step on it.
Diana also had two wedding bouquets. This was because Queen Elizabeth lost the flowers during her own wedding, so she started the tradition of having two identical bouquets created to prevent a similar mishap.
Here’s something else we didn’t know: The Queen Mother gave part of the wedding cake to one of her employees. There was plenty to spare: the three-tiered cake stood five feet tall and weighed 225 pounds. The twenty-eight-ounce slice of cake is now going up for auction on August 11 and is expected to bring nearly $700.
The healthcare I have seen in Cuba
We seldom know all there is to know about anything we see in the news.
For example, many of us are watching the unfolding protests and responses in Cuba. Cuban Americans gathered on the front lawn of the Capitol this week to support those on the island in their fight for freedom from communism.
Mass trials of those who marched in protest are already underway, with reports that nearly seven hundred have been detained. Swift convictions are already being handed down.
We commonly hear in Western press that the Cuban healthcare system is a success worthy of emulation. In fact, Huffington Post called it “a model for the world.” Cuba sends tens of thousands of doctors to serve in more than sixty countries. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) has defended Cuban dictator Fidel Castro because he “educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed the society.”
However, after ten trips to the island over the years, I can attest personally that what we hear in Western press is not the reality I have experienced. There is essentially a three-tier system in Cuba: the best healthcare is given to foreigners (this is what American politicians and press usually see), while the second tier is restricted to the Cuban elite (politicians and others).
The third tier is available to everyone else and is abysmal. We have often brought aspirin and other essentials with us into Cuba because the people have no access to them. A dear pastor friend of mine faced surgery in a Cuban hospital under conditions so dire and dangerous as to be life-threatening. His wife died of cancer that would have been successfully treated in the US.
As Zach Thapar notes in The Daily Signal, patients must “bring their own bed sheets, soap, towels, food, and even light bulbs to receive medical care.” He also documents that Cuban doctors sent abroad are often thrust into violent situations and gang warfare, forced to falsify statistics, and required to give 75 to 90 percent of their salary to the government.
Cuba also has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. Many patients are pressured into having abortions to artificially improve infant mortality rates by preventing marginally riskier births from occurring.
How our heart can be “glad” in God
In other words, we cannot always believe what we see in the news. As we noted in yesterday’s Daily Article, we need to pray not only about how to respond to the news and media of our day but even about what news we choose to consume.
We are not to trust people only because they tell us what we want to hear: “Even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you” (Jeremiah 12:6).
Nor are spiritual leaders to be trusted if they do not lead us to the Lord and his truth: “Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness” (v. 10).
Seeking and speaking biblical truth with persuasive compassion is vital and urgent, for a holy God must inevitably judge sinful nations: “If any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the Lord” (v. 17).
By contrast, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” (Psalm 33:12). This fact is relevant not just for ancient Israel but for us today: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love” (v. 18).
The psalmist testified, “Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name” (v. 21). We will be “glad” in God to the degree that we “trust” in him. The latter is essential to the former; the former is symptomatic of the latter.
Three ways to make a difference today
What are some practical steps we can take to be more discerning with news and culture and thus more effective in using our influence for God’s glory and the common good?
First, we should follow news from a variety of perspectives, making it a point to include those with which we may not agree. Subscribing to and supporting at least one local outlet is especially important since our influence begins in our “Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8).
Second, we should encourage more Christians to serve through news outlets and reporting, recognizing that their platform and influence are especially significant in these days of full-time media consumption. “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10).
Third, we should use the communication tools available to us for God’s greatest glory. If you have a cell phone and access to the internet, you can speak to the world. What you say, tweet, write, and post should always honor your Savior and draw people to him: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Eric Liddell is just one of many Olympic athletes who have used their athletic platforms for God’s glory. A gold medal winner at the 1924 Summer Olympics and subject of the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, he went on to serve as a missionary in China and died while a Japanese prisoner in an internment camp.
Liddell famously wrote to his sister before the Olympics, “I believe God made me for a purpose. But he also made me fast.”
How has God made you “fast” today?
NOTE: As I discussed yesterday, I am tweeting on breaking news through the day; you can follow me here. And I am writing for our website on stories not in the Daily Article; you can see my latest articles here.
Image credit: ©Getty Images / Patricia Hamilton
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
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