The Gobsmacking Gratuity of God
I hate asking for help. In my pride I want to keep the appearance of having it all together; asking for help shatters that carefully crafted illusion. It requires me to admit I cannot solve all my problems on my own. It requires that I face my own weaknesses and inabilities.
It’s a hard pill to swallow—but, that pill was mine just a couple months ago.
A BIG GULP AND A GOFUNDME
My six-year-old son is autistic and minimally verbal. After trying several interventions over the years to help him communicate better, we were finally approved for an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (or “AAC”) device, which is a tablet or laptop that helps those with a speech or language impairment to communicate.
It’s a game-changer for kids like mine, but very expensive— close to $10,000, and then the purchase of a second “modeling device,” through which parents teach their child how to use the AAC device. We certainly couldn’t afford it. After investigating other solutions and coming up short, I finally took a big gulp, swallowed my pride and set up a GoFundMe.
To my surprise, within five hours our little crowd-funding campaign was fully funded! Then, an even crazier thing happened: People kept donating. For some reason, they just wanted to give us more money! It’s hard to believe that people can be that generous, that they can give beyond what is reasonable. I kept asking myself, “Why are they doing this?” It was starting to make me feel guilty. The devices were funded, was I just taking advantage of people’s sympathy?
It was all very strange and bewildering, but eventually, I came to a conclusion that brought me some peace: People are gratuitously generous because that’s the kind of God we have.
THE GOD OF SOMETHING MORE
“Gratuitous” is not a word we typically associate with God. Something is “gratuitous” if it is beyond what is reasonable, and God is perfectly reasonable. He is reason itself. But He gives so generously that He appears to us to be quite unreasonable sometimes.
For example, when the wine ran out at the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus turned 150 gallons of water into the finest wine. When a multitude of 5,000 came to listen to Jesus, and it grew late with nothing for them to eat, He turned five barley loaves and two fish into enough food for everyone to have their fill—with 12 baskets of food left over. After Simon fished all night without success, Jesus commanded him to set out into the deep and cast his net again. Simon then caught so many fish that they broke his net and filled two boats to the point of sinking.
That’s what gratuity looks like. That’s the kind of God we have.
WE ARE THE DIFFERENCE
Yes, we have a God of abundance, but abundance is not always what we see in the world. The homeless, the hungry, the abused and neglected—how is their cup overflowing?
The difference is us. As we’ve seen from Scripture, Jesus will perform miracles so His abundance breaks through. As Christians, we pray for these miracles, and we believe they can and will happen. But, we must take the extra step of giving, healing, serving, and defending the dignity of those in need.
Deprivation occurs whenever we don’t take both steps. But, like the 45 people who donated to our family’s need, when we respond to God’s generosity with our own generosity, we give others the experience of an unbelievable outpouring of grace and power. And with so much chaos and confusion in the world, it’s nice to have a good reason to be bewildered.
Nicholas Hardesty is the associate director of Adult Evangelization and RCIA for the Center for the New Evangelization. | [email protected]
This article appeared in the July 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.