I remember that lady, so broken by life that she could only speak in tears. Her words, the wet and salty kind, ran right through me. She came for help like all the others who were hit hard by the failing economy. I handed her the kleenex as she filled out the necessary paperwork.
Then there was the man who had been without work for some time who sheepishly confessed that he had never had to do this before. I could feel his embarrassment at having to ask for assistance for the very first time. I listened and assured him he was not alone.
I’ve seen many faces come through the doors of this place – this old, concrete, falling-apart building in our community where a few paid staff works with an army of volunteers (of which I am one) attempting to build up the falling-apart people we are privileged to serve.
They come in with varying needs and requests. Sidetracked by an unexpected life event such as job loss, illness or divorce. They need help finding work, healthcare, legal aid, a place to live, clothing, money to pay bills, food to put on the table for their families.
And what I’ve learned these past few years is that we are all falling apart, in one way or another, at one time or another.
We are all different, but the one thing we all have in common is our need for hope. The hope that we are loved and cared for and that things will get better.
And I feel this – the tie that binds all humanity together – whenever I pass along a cart of groceries to that out-of-work father or a sack of diapers to that overwhelmed mother. Or even when I hand over a box of kleenex to the despairing widow. We are all connected. The young, the old and everyone in between.
We are connected by our loving Creator so that we can offer hope and compassion to each other in our times of need. And He made it so that when we open our hands to give, we also open our hearts to receive. It’s the principle of sowing and reaping, as described in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8:
“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
I read this and the words convict. Do I give bountifully the way God has given to me? Do I lavish love on others the way God has loved me? Is my attitude in giving always pure and unselfish? The short and painful answer is no.
But my insufficiency is all the more reason to entrust myself to the One who is all-sufficient. When I go to Him, confessing my need, He fills my empty heart with cartloads of grace, my hands with sacks of mercy. He even throws in a box of kleenex when necessary. And He dries my tears with hope, letting me know I’m not alone.
What about you? Do you know that you are loved and cared for today?
Consider what God has to say:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Father, thank you for your love and compassion and for showing me that, by reaching out my empty hands to carry someone else’s burden for a while, my own burden feels lighter and I get more blessings than I could ever give out. Teach me to follow your example and to give as you have given to me – unselfishly, cheerfully, abundantly. Amen