Recently, I read an article in the local paper, the Marshall News Messenger, featuring a man who had lost his job and as a result found himself living in a tent. He had worked as waiter since he was a teenager. He always had money to buy groceries, rent a modest apartment and to pay his bills.
In March, he and the entire staff of the restaurant where he worked were laid off indefinitely due to the shutdown triggered by COVID. He lost his savings, his car, and his apartment. He tried to survive as he waited on unemployment and food stamps, something he had never had to rely on in his thirty plus years slinging hash and serving people.
Along with the tangible necessities of life, he lost his confidence, dignity, and human connections. He nearly lost his will to live. But, he didn’t quit. He didn’t give up. He adjusted. He lost a ton of weight and tried to remain positive. He’s still homeless, but he’s hopeful.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, nearly 20 million American workers live paycheck to paycheck and are expected to experience homelessness at some point in their life. The number is expected to increase by 45-50 percent due to the economic repercussions of the pandemic.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.Proverbs 19:17 (ESV)
The other day, I read a social media post from someone living in a nearby neighborhood back home who is tired of seeing the homeless vagrants near our suburban oasis. The “neighbor” complained about these drug addicted, alcohol ailed lowlifes infesting her view. Having ministered to the Dallas homeless population for nearly a decade, this post angered me and disappointed me.
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?Isaiah 58:7 (ESV)
The homeless problem in America was complicated and complex before the virus wreaked havoc on every facet of our lives. The cost has been great, both to those who died from the virus—of whom I know several—and to those who are bearing the brunt of the economic cost—-of whom I know many. In addition to the health repercussions wrought on us by COVID, depression and suicide due to the economic costs of the pandemic are skyrocketing. The virus is killing us in a myriad of ways.
Having worked with the homeless in Dallas, I’m under no grand illusions. I can smell bullshit coming from a mile away and from having spent time working my own recovery program, I know that if a practicing addict’s lips are moving, then they’re lying.
Here’s the deal though: a ton of homeless folks living on the streets, tent camps, and shelters aren’t drunks or dopers. Many suffer from mental challenges. Others are trying to work their way back into society after having served time in prison or after serving in the military. Many are hard working people who fell on hard times due to losing their means to earn a viable income.
I guess that’s why the social media post angered and disappointed me. I know those guys living in their cars or in a tent aren’t all vagrant lowlifes. And as a believer, isn’t it my job to show them love and compassion? Shouldn’t I try and help them rather than condemn them? Sure, this requires exercising wisdom and discernment. Not everyone holding a sign panhandling for cash is actually homeless or in dire straits. Yet, I can only meet people as Christ met me; I can only view them with the same eyes that Jesus sees me.
How has COVID impacted you economically?
What is different about your life today than before the pandemic?
How do you view homeless people? With scorn or with love?
How can I encourage today?
God, we are immensely grateful for the blessings You have provided each of us. We pray for all those adversely impacted by the Virus. Help us show those who have lost it all compassion. Help us help those in need. May we love one another with the unsurpassable love with which You loves us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
May the Lord shower You with His grace and mercy.
The Devotional Guy™
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