“The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen
Do you ever get consumed by the hurting people around you? There are days that zoom along and nothing seems to phase me. I'm on top of the world, so to speak, as tasks get marked off the list, meetings go super smooth and the sun seems like it is shining on us brighter than ever. Then there are other days when nothing goes right. Things fall apart. Hurtful talks might even happen. Everything seems to be spiraling in a not so good direction. I am sure you have had both days.
I was hit with a conversation last night of a friend who had a major health concern, and today they learned that they have cancer. This week I have had some people walk in my office and tell me that their relationships are decaying. A marriage is torn apart after more than 20 years together. A couple that is engaged to be marriage is hit hard with problems of addiction and mental strain. Another marriage is crumbling. Some of these didn't shock me but a couple hit hard.
Hurting people have my heart. Last weekend I picked up a friend after his wife had kicked him out of the house. I was there when he gathered his clothes and kissed his kids good bye. My heart was being twisted as I watched on. This weeke that relationship has gotten some better, but I have met some other people who didn't have food and some others who are homeless and others who can't find work after months or even years of searching.
There are some success stories. One friend, Harry, moved back to town a little more than a week ago because an old employeer called him back to work after several years of being laid off. I listened to the story of a lady today who got a strange phone call. The voice on the other end couldn't hardly prounce the lady's name right. Come to find out calling her was a young teenage girl who she helped because she gave to an organzation that supported troubled girls. The teen girl called to say thank you for being kind and for her help.
Hurting people are all around us. Are our lives so busy that we miss these people? Maybe they are walking down the street as we drive by. Maybe they are standing in the checkout line at the grocery store near us. Maybe they are our next door neighbor that just can't seem to fight off depression. It is time that we care for hurting people.
Maybe all you have to give is a prayer. Then, stop and pray for someone. Maybe you can pay for someone's groceries or pay their electric bill so their lights won't be turned off. How about just asking the old question "how are you doing?" and looking at the person as you really care about their answer.
We are blessed. Not only did Jesus die for our sins, but God has blessed us with life. Even in our most difficult of times, we still have things and time and effort that we can give to help the hurting people around us. Yet far too often we find ourselves as Christians sequestered in the church, cut off from the world and singing our praise songs and listening to sermons as the hurting people of our community walk on by us. Our faith must be put into action. What do we do when we realize people are hurting?
In the quote I began with, Henri Nouwen said that our spiritual life doesn't push us away from the world but as we get closer to God we become more and more committed to making a difference in the world around us. Take a minute to ask God how you are doing in your spiritual life? Do you really care for the hurting people around you?
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.