Thursday, 3 November 2011

Yesterday I Met Hopelessness

And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more [important] than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.
~ Mark 12:33 
I met him yesterday.  I watched as he tried to speak to people but they either did not hear him or choose to not engage with this troubled man.  His clothes were dirty, ripped and torn,  His shoulders were slumped, his head lowered as he teetered back and forth precariously on the curb.  As I got closer to him I noticed that he wore both a large cross and a pentagram around his neck.  His cheeks were sunken in and he had large sores on his hands and face and I wondered when he had last received any medical attention.  Everything about this man was difficult to look at.  He looked beaten by life and without any source of hope.  I could not understand what he was asking me but then he abruptly stopped and pointed to the word "bible" on my book.  I tried asking him if he had ever read the bible but again incoherent words tumbled from his mouth.  He stopped and I asked him, "What do you need?"  He asked for money, almost falling off the curb and into the parking lot.  "I don't want to give you money but you look like you could use a coffee."  I said.  He still did not look up.  "When was the last time you ate?"  "How about I get you a meal."

When I came out of the store he was not in the same spot that I left him and I wondered if he had moved on.  But a second later I noticed him on the other side of the parking lot this time.   It took me a while to get him to understand that the meal was for him.  I got him to sit down on the curb and as I knelt beside him and opened his coffee lid and got his food ready for him,  I was at a loss as to what else I could do.  I tried again to ask him his name and to talk and ask about the bible hoping that I could offer him some encouragement and hope.  Strange and incoherent words again tumbled from his mouth and I am not sure if they were from his inebriation or if he was also mentally ill.  I finally left him there on the curb, in the sunshine, drinking his coffee and eating his chili.  As I walked away, I was praying that God would have mercy on this man.  Since that meeting yesterday his image is never far from my mind.  I wonder if I could have or should have done more?  Is there a way I could have shared the hope I have for my life that could have broken through his hopelessness?  Again I am left wondering how do I love my neighbour well?


  1. It's's life... I appreciate such moments in my life most of all...

  2. Bless you for helping someone in need, even if he may not understand what you why you did it for him...reminds me of Jesus.

  3. I wonder that too. I remember walking home in Sheffield once and this man started yelling to me from across the street. I stopped while he ran across and as he got closer, I realised he was homeless, and either very drunk or mentally unstable as it was hard for him to put words together. I gathered he was asking for money, so I fished into my pockets. I didn't have much at the time, but the nice thing about not having much is that it doesn't put you out much, so I handed him the couple pounds I had. He looked at me strangely and was like, "What ARE you, a priest or something?" I told him no, simply. But he kept pushing it - "You're something! I bishop? A nun?" "No," I told him, "But if it helps, I'm on my way home from church." Then he FREAKED OUT, started screaming and trying to push me away. "A Christian! That's why you were screaming at me on your way up! That's why you were shouting at me to leave! Trying to get me out of here!" Then the rambling became incoherent and he threw the money I'd given him back at me. I RAN like there was no tomorrow. Don't know what happened to him...but it's strange - some people just seem beyond help, even if you want to help them.

  4. What a touching story. Kindness is never a waste. Jesus said that "in that you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto Me."
    It is always a temptation to pretend you don't see someone in need or look at the unlovely. We all have a chance every day to give to the unlovely or the "not so popular".

    I heard a true story about a man who was the Dean of a Christian college who had to step down, because his wife had Alzheimer's disease. For years he took care of her as her health declined to the point of not being able to talk or move well. One day, desperately, the husband wondered at God's plan for his life in deep despair, knowing what his life could have been like; affecting many lives for Christ at the college, yet would never change his life caring for his precious wife.
    That afternoon, as he and his wife were taking their daily walk, he heard the town drunk coming up behind them. He tried to hurry his wife along, hoping to avoid the drunk. The man, however, caught up to them and muttered,"that is good....that is real good." , as he watched them walking. He staggered past them, turned, and said again," That is good, that is real good. I like that, I really like that."
    After the couple returned home and the wife had gotten settled in, the husband went to the garden to pray once again, asking God about the "why" of his life. As he knelt in prayer, he heard the drunks words, "I like that.....that is real good." He realized, the Lord had used this man to answer His prayer. The Lord loved what the husband was doing and it was good. It was a sacrifice, unto Him.
    The Lord loves us, and came for all mankind. Even the lowest of people, (whoever that is in our own eyes) Bless you for giving to that man. You never may meet him in heaven.

  5. You did a fine job of caring.

    It never ceases to amaze me how the sight of sickness and poverty overwhelms us. It is so potent, it either draws us to minister to it, or causes us to run away, and it does both very strongly.


  6. Such a lot of complicated emotions, I'm glad you found a good way to help. I bet the time you sat there was the best gift.