A close friend of mine lives in a larger city. Frequently she has told me of the homeless people who stand on busy corners holding signs that read, “Homeless and hungry. Anything helps.”
Sometimes my friend would encounter three or four of these people a day. Sometimes drivers handed money to them. My friend did not. She found those people to be a huge annoyance. She was suspicious of them and totally convinced that they were lazy. Her thoughts told her: They are on drugs. They choose an easy way out. They really don’t want to find a job.
My friend found herself looking straight ahead when she would pass them with their homemade cardboard sign, their tattered clothes, their worn shoes, and their discouraged faces.
Besides she thought, there are scores of others that faithfully go to work everyday, even if they don’t really feel up to it. Others work to provide medical benefits for their families. Others are productive citizens who pay their bills on time. Others maintain a home and a yard. Others vote. Others pay into Social Security and prepare for retirement.
Each day seemed to bring out a new homeless person holding a sign. My friend resented passing them, for she felt these people could do something about their plight if they put out the effort. Then God used a sudden medical condition to soften her heart.
My friend was stricken with an intense painful condition that required immediate hospitalization. She received excellent medical care, and after a few short days, she was gratefully on her way home. My friend traveled the familiar road, and again, she passed a familiar homeless person holding a sign. Suddenly she realized, “What happens to that man when he is in pain?” Her eyes filled with tears, and she asked God to forgive her for her cold indifference to the homeless.
Once at home, my friend collected some fruit, healthy snacks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a bar of soap, a washcloth, a small sum of money, and a New Testament. She returned to the corner where the homeless man was standing with his sign. She handed the sack to him and said, “God bless you.”
The Bible is clear on how we should think about those needy among us. Isaiah was very clear on how we should help: “Feed the hungry. Help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy, too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” (Isaiah 58:10-11) The New Testament writer wrote: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity or him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17).
My friend could not pay for the medical attention for the homeless person she saw, even if he had needed it. But something changed inside her — a paradigm shift. Where once she looked at him in disdain, she turned to sharing of the resources that she had.
When we reach out in Christ’s name we share that light that is within us. Not only does it bring hope to a lost word but in that sharing and generosity, we found a certain renewed happiness and peace. It is just as someone once said: When we freely give, we do not deplete our resources, but replenish them like an “ever-flowing spring.”
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: email@example.com