Today, our vehicle just happened to stop at the very spot where a homeless man stood holding a sign begging for help. Sadly, this occurs more frequently with every passing day, and to be honest, I do not feel that I always have the heart of Christ when I see someone professing homelessness and desperation, at least not anymore. With each daily bombardment of phone scammers, telemarketers, charities and everyone else holding out their hand wanting money, money and more money, my heart has gradually grown suspicious – especially towards those standing on street corners wanting a hand-out, because lately there have been so very many on the streets, alleging to be homeless, which have been proven, without a doubt, to be con artists, some of which rake-in thousands of dollars each month from unsuspecting but well-meaning folks.
How then, does one know when to give and when not to? The only logical answer for me is to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit of God. It seems, though, that I have not felt led to give to those professing homelessness very much in recent times, and this leads me to wonder if I am really listening or if I am allowing the cares of the world to distract or harden my heart so that I cannot ‘hear’ the Holy Spirit clearly. Surely, not everyone standing alongside the road begging for money is a con artist – especially after so many have been hit so hard by the pandemic.
Today it was easy to pay attention. I clearly felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to give to this man -very clearly- and I was obedient. Yes, I know the Bible says when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing [Matthew 6:3], and I always try to be obedient to that as well. However, I felt every bit as prompted to share with you today, dear reader, what happened next.
The only money we had with us in the car was a mere dollar and some change, hardly enough to buy any food or necessities, but we gave it, wishing it could have been more. The man took the money and he thanked us but there was no hint of gratitude. This didn’t bother me; obedience does not demand anything at all from the receiver. What did bother me was the man’s eyes! They were empty and void of any semblance of hope. I have seen this before. In fact, I felt this way myself in my youth, which is perhaps why it was so easily recognizable to me. What I saw in this man could only be described as someone who has completely and utterly given up, someone who was merely waiting for physical death to catch up to his emotional state.
If you, dear reader, have read any of my previous posts, you know that I always try to write only positive and uplifting messages, words of hope and healing and this message certainly seems contrary, but again, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit of God to share this with you because God cares! He cares about you and me and He cares about the homeless. This man probably is homeless (I can’t know for certain), but regardless, he is a man in great desperation and need. I know this because as the light turned green and we pulled away, a tight knot formed in my stomach and tears unwillingly streamed down my face – and this continued all the way home. I have rarely felt anything this intense in all my years of ministry.
I prayed for this man and will continue to do so. If you are a Christian, dear reader, I ask that you lift him up in prayer as well. I don’t know his name nor anything about him, but God does.
Neither do I know why the Holy Spirit prompted me so strongly to share any of this with you. But He knows! I can only assume that someone needs to hear this. One thing I do know for sure, though, is that God cares for humanity, for those who trust in Him and those who do not, and He desires people like you and me to be His hands and heart extended to a hurting world. Perhaps, dear reader, you can be the one that reminds a hurting soul that “the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever” Psalms 9:18. Verse 9 of that same chapter reminds us that The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. In context, these verses speak to those who are in relationship with the Lord God already, but they certainly apply to the unbeliever as well. And who knows, perhaps a mere dollar and some change, or a kind deed, or just an encouraging word might be the very thing the God uses to draw a desperate and hopeless soul to Himself. Or maybe, just maybe, it might be the thing that God uses to show us that we have become a bit too skeptical or uncharitable in a world fraught with deception, and consequently desensitized to genuine need.
As for this nameless man, I believe His need, whatever it is, is great and very pressing. And there are so many like him, so I close with this prayer:
Dear Lord, there are so many in our world facing very dire circumstances, some of which are life and death! We cannot help them all, and sometimes, we cannot help them much, but so much as we are able, Lord, let us be faithful to do so. I pray that we do not grow weary in well-doing, not that we may reap if we faint not [Galatians 6:9] but rather because we have a love for all humanity as you do. May we truly be your hearts and hands extended and may our spirits be in tune with yours so that we can clearly hear the promptings of your Holy Spirit and be obedient no matter the cost! Here I am, Lord, send me.
Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay