I want to tell you a fairy tale about a poor little girl who grew up to be a rich princess. The story starts with the little girl’s parents who were just teenagers when they got married. They were very poor because there was no work in the village where they lived. The father kept looking for work to support the family while the mother helped her sister with her babysitting business. One day, when the mother went to answer a phone call, the little girl, who was only 18 months old, fell down a deep hole and got stuck. The hole wasn’t big enough for anyone to go down and get the little girl so the town people began to dig a new hole alongside. At first they thought that it wouldn’t take too long to dig the hole but then they ran into some very hard rock that kept breaking their digging tools. But they kept going. While all of this was going on, the word got out to towns everywhere and people all over waited for news about the rescue. People heard about how poor the family was and they sent gifts and money. Finally, after almost three days of digging, the little girl was rescued. Everyone was very happy that she was alive and didn’t have any life-threatening injuries. The family used some of the gifts that people sent to buy a modest home and to start a business. There was even a big parade for the rescue team. The little girl grew up, got married, had a baby and, when she turned 25, she received a fortune from the gifts that people had sent. And everyone lived happily ever after.
The story I told you is mostly true. It’s the story of “Baby Jessica” who fell down a well shaft in 1987. It happened over in Midland, Texas and, with the help of news reporters, her rescue attempt captivated the whole world. Jessica is now 21, so the million dollar trust fund won’t be hers for a few more years. But she does seem to be happy and is still living in Midland. But there is a downside to the whole story. Baby Jessica did sustain some injuries that required 15 surgeries and 9 blood transfusions. Her parents failed in their business venture and then ended up getting a divorce about three years after the rescue. One of the policemen who helped with the rescue is now in prison. One of the paramedics who was central to the rescue effort suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and ended up committing suicide. I don’t tell you all this just to put a damper on this incredible rescue story. Good things did come out of this bad situation. But the truth is that life is not always fair and that good things do not always happen to people who do good things. And God is very honest with us about that. But God also tells us that he takes note of the good things we do even when other people don’t notice. He also tells us that, because life isn’t always fair, that we should try to do good things to help each other get through it. That doesn’t always mean things like rescuing trapped babies. It can mean something as simple as offering to get someone at your table a drink refill when you get up to get yours. The Bible is full of stories of people doing small things that, in some cases, planted a seed that grew into something great. The key is that they didn’t know what would happen when they did it and they didn’t do it with expectation of any reward. And that’s exactly the kind of attitude that God wants all of us to have.