Some don’t know that much about what it’s like to live with an illness. Mental and physical. I have been dealing with both for several years. There’s no way in heaven and earth that I would be able to hold down a job, with either the physical or the mental illness, let alone both. I am so grateful that I have a husband who cares for me. He is extremely understanding and supportive even as I suffer through some very serious boughts of depression and paranoia. Some men and women aren’t so lucky. They don’t have someone to love them unconditionally or help them when they are in need.
Recently, I was upset by a really disturbing story. Christ, Buddha, and even normal nice people who don’t believe in anything, understand that it is good to give to those in need. Christ talks often about helping the poor and the down and out. Disability checks don’t always cover all the needs, especially if something unforseen happens. Often times those who have mental or physical impairments will get jobs anyway because it can be boring just sitting at home all day. And depressing. But, it’s rare that we keep them for very long. Bipolar robs us of that right.
We live in a world that does not understand this. We are quick to help our friends. I have seen people helped by large amounts of money only to later turn around and refuse to provide a few days worth of food for a hungry man, when they were financially on top again. What really struck me as interesting is that the hungry Christian, who has borrowed money before, has paid it back every time. He never looked for a hand out. He hates that he is a burden and tried hard to provide for himself. But those who don’t have mental illness have no idea what it’s like to have no control over the chemicals that move from one place to another in the brain. In a sick person, they move differently and outbursts of pain, and paranoid emotion can destroy working relationships. It’s not something the Lord chooses to heal in every person.
Christ did not ask us to judge when a person needs to eat and not eat. Surely, no matter how tight times get, we can help a hungry man eat for a night. I need to write this because I want to remind you that at one time or another you were helped. Somebody has helped you with something. We have all been helped. Give back. I bet you the ones who refuse to give this man food had a hell of a Christmas party at the office or in their small group, or their church. Priorities tell so much about a man.
A wise man will know the difference between being taken advantage of, and actual need. I am not referring to a person who will not help himself. It would be enablement to help someone who does not help himself. It would be wise and kind and the Hand of God to feed a hungry person who pays back his debts, who tries hard to overcome the thorn in his side, who hates who he is, but tries hard everyday to be a better person. And just like thousands of years ago, the pharaohs that sit on their comfy thrones decide if this man should be worthy of food tonight.
My reason for this blog is strictly practical. Don’t be tight-fisted with your cash. People come before parties and presents and anything else in the world. There are those “out there” with no one to help them. There’s no consulting the Spirit on this one because He’s already been consulted. God said straight up in Isaiah 1, “Quit you trivial charades. I can’t stand your religious games. Meetings, meetings, meetings- I can’t stand one more!… I’m sick of your religion while you go right on sinning…When you put on your next prayer performance I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces. Go home, wash up. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down and out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.”
How easy it becomes to sit in our cozy homes and think that we are so righteous and just because we are blessed, blessed, blessed. When was the last time we died to ourselves (and not just let a friend have their way in an argument), but really died to self and gave something that hurt to give, and truly helped the defenseless and the down and out.
I am always amazed at the kindness that comes out during the holiday season. We feet like telling those who don’t have the money to help others to pass them our way… we’ll sell our dryer and hang dry all our clothes to dry if it means no Brother or Sister in Christ goes hungry. We know what matters. We know what’s eternal. And we know because Christ has given us Himself so we are never without grace, selflessness, and putting others before ourselves. The next time you are asked for help, think about what would have happened if you were turned down when you needed food and shelter. Have you had a need? Was it filled?
Christ folks, it’s the reason for the season. Christ gives everything and we have the opportunity to express the trait of grace and mercy upon fellow human beings.