I just returned from Cuba, and I must say, it was truly a wonderful country. It was everything I could have wanted in an exotic tropical destination. Stunning architecture at every corner, lush green waterfalls and mountains, and soft-sanded beaches. And yet, I honestly left feeling a bit disheartened. It had nothing to do with the landscape or the sights, but instead with the people.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is getting to know the locals and trying to understand their culture. I can’t express how excited I get to hear their way of life, what they like to eat, and what they like to do. It’s just fascinating to me.
But with Cuba, I left a bit bothered. And sadly, because of the wrongdoings of only a few. Overall I did in fact meet many kind people, but there were a few situations that left me surprised and sad. I have traveled to 54 countries, and many of them to very poor locations. I am used to people overcharging me, and making every effort to convince me it’s a “good price” or “good deal”, when in fact, I know it is not. At the end of the day, I know that what is peanuts to me, can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. If I get overcharged here and there, I am okay with that.
But what occurred on this trip left me feeling hurt. Without getting into too many details, I was taken advantage of by someone I felt I could not only trust, but had also become a caring friend. If you also travel, then you understand the ways travel can make you forever grateful for someone you hardly even know.
I left feeling completely shocked that the love of money outweighed any sort of friendship for me in return. I was left stunned thinking…but how could they? They were so sweet. They were so kind. They took care of me when I was sick. They helped me when I was in need. And yet, at the end of the day, they wanted nothing more than my…money…? It blew my mind.
The Bible says,
What it doesn’t say is money is the root of all kinds of evil. But instead, the LOVE of money. And that is a very, very important distinction.
The love of money can control your heart like none other. Greed can control your heart like none other. Left unchecked, it can destroy your motives and thus, the choices that you make.
1 Timothy 6:10 continues with:
Quick disclaimer: (in case you might be thinking that this entire post is extremely selfish and I should not be complaining about losing money in a poorer country) The amount that was taken was the equivalent to three months wages for the average Cuban. With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that what they did was not out of necessity for living, but instead out of greed.
Most people might agree that these types of behaviors are never acceptable, however due to poor living conditions, they are tolerable. But this is not what the Bible teaches.
Jesus expects you to live an honest life despite your circumstances. 1 Timothy goes on to say:
I love that. It warms my heart. Despite any worldly problems that come our way, whether we are living in blessing or in lack, we have Jesus Christ to give us strength.
And we are to remain honest and true, despite our circumstances. This is the good fight. The true faith is maintaining our Christ-like qualities, through the good times and the bad. We can do this because as believers we know Jesus is above our circumstances.
When talking with a fellow traveler about what happened, he mentioned something that I found to be extremely interesting. When traveling through Iran, he said that despite poor living conditions, famines, and instability within the country, the people were genuinely so kind. When you visit them, you are a highly appreciated guest in their house. They welcome you into their home, feed you, and help you…without expecting anything in return. Even if you offer, they will not take your money, but instead simply want to be a blessing to you. What a radical thought. In a country where they have nothing, and you have so much, they want to bless you.
Wow. It seems to me the people of Iran exemplify the type of love and gentleness towards others that Christ asks His followers to show. This is the type of person I want to be. Showing an unselfish and unassuming love towards others, despite my circumstances and daily trials. A person that makes people wonder how I can give when I am in lack, or how I can show kindness when others have been unkind to me.
Over to you! Have you experienced something similar? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!