Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

Eating chocolate Easter bunnies is good for the soul AND your heart. Research published today in the European Heart Journal shows that one small square of chocolate a day can lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Mmmm! Very, very good news…

Researchers in Germany followed 19,357 people, aged between 35 and 65, for ten years and found that those who ate around 7.5 grams a day of chocolate had lower blood pressure and a 39% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke when compared to those who ate an average of 1.7 grams a day. What makes the difference? Just one small square of a 100g chocolate bar. I can handle that.

But there is a darker cost to the benefits of dark chocolate. It is well documented by groups like “Not for Sale” that much of world’s chocolate, produced in countries like Ivory Coast is produced by slave labor. Human trafficking is a horrid problem in the world today. Some estimate as many as 27 million people are held against their will. Our “addiction” to chocolate, now reinforced by the actual health benefits of that addiction pose a brutal threat to those helpless children suffering in the jungles of West Africa where the products feeding our cravings are produced.

So today, when I have my 7.5 grams of dark chocolate – all for my own health of course – I will pause for a moment to pray for the slave children who picked the beans that gave me this gift. I will also go practical steps beyond prayer, to be part of the answer to my own prayer. I will act in some way today against the threat of slavery. There are many ways I can choose to live to help stand against this blight of injustice. One simple step: I will find some slave-free chocolate, for the health of my heart, my soul, and the lives of thousands of children in the darker corners of the world.

“God, you love justice and hate injustice. Thank you for the gift of delicacies like chocolate. But God, when our appetites are fed by injustices done to others, the sweetness and the benefits to our health turn bitter. Give us courage and determination to act justly, even in small matters. And then gather our individual efforts to build momentum and force to stop this blight of slavery. God, step in now to rescue the children trapped in the cocoa industry. Use brave souls on the ground in places like West Africa. But also use those of us here who by our action and inaction unintentionally – but truthfully – make this problem worse. Your heart is to rescue the enslaved. May our heart be yours. And that then will be the true heart benefit we need. In Jesus…”

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