Continuing from “Ouch! How Much Am I Willing To …? Part 1”.
The righteous understands the cause of the poor, but the wicked is unconcerned.
(Pro 29:7 CJB)
Perhaps the biggest thing that most people do not understand about helping someone is that it means making sacrifices. It means giving…not necessarily of our finances (although that is often required), but it can also mean giving of our possessions and of ourselves. It can mean giving up some of our freedom.
Years ago we ran across someone who had provided a service for us. She had experienced a minor stroke and had become homeless because she was unable to do her job to the same level. When we saw her at a funeral and asked about why her typically immaculate car was stuffed with things, we found out she was living in it.
For us, at the time, having a rather large house, the immediate answer was simple. After talking with her about what she had tried, and knowing how the local shelters worked, we took her home. She stayed with us for several months. Was it convenient? No. Did we have to give up some things? Yes. We had to accommodate her physical limitations. We had to make allowance for the coffee spilled on the rug in her room. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! I am SO glad that we did it!
Other than the room, the biggest thing she needed was simply for us to care. We offered her emotional support. Were there times when we thought she could be doing more? Sure! But we knew that she would get to that point when she was ready. We were not G-d. We did not know what she was truly capable of and it was not our place to judge her. We offered her support with the occasional nudge here and there. We listened as she told of others who were pushing her to do things that (BECAUSE she was living us) we could clearly see that she could not do. Others, without really knowing, would judge her…and it hurt her. We gave her a safe place to share and express her frustrations.
Ironically, we have found that emotional/spiritual support is the one thing that seems to be the hardest to get. Over the years, we have needed some financial help here and there and there are people of G-d who have seen the need and helped out, for which we are VERY grateful. Yet, the single biggest need we have had were people to walk alongside of us. That is where it gets really tough. That is where you have to give of yourself…you have to care.
What a difference it would have made for us to get some regular phone calls, some cards, some visits, some prayer time with others. It is not something any one person should do. As the body of Yeshua, there should be small groups who commit to work together for the sake of a person, a couple, a family. They should be there to call, to visit, to even lend a helping hand with a project. Whatever the need might be, it is SO helpful to have someone who will help out…or find someone else who can help out. It can make the difference between feeling lonely in the body of Yeshua…in the “church”…and feeling a part of a community.
The other hardest thing is any kind of prolonged or sustained help. I remember, as a single mom, getting $25 a month from an anonymous donor who just wanted to help a single mom (and who did not want to know who it was). I almost felt guilty taking it but I was encouraged by the middle person to do so. It was a huge blessing to my sons and I. It was nice to know that it was coming each month.
Most people are OK with giving. Once. Twice. Maybe even more. However, the idea that a person or family might need some steady help for a while to get through something is a concept that is difficult to grasp for most. We live in a microwave, instant download generation. We want to see results…NOW. We want the need to be fixed quickly and be over. But life oftentimes does not work like that. Situations can be messy and take a long time to get through. Sometimes, people need some long term support…whether financial or emotional/spiritual. I know…having been through some.
So, the question I was challenged with this morning was: how prepared am ‘I’ to help? How willing am I? How much am I willing to give of any of the resources I have, but more importantly…how much am I willing to give of MYSELF??? Am I willing to meet the needs in someone else’s life that sometimes went unmet in my own? Have I learned from my own experiences? Or have they been wasted?
Dave and I believe that a lot of this goes away if you have the kind of spiritual community we see described in Acts and elsewhere in the Bible. When the community interacts on that level, the love grows. When the love grows, the needs are more easily and more readily met. They are also more easily verified.
Yeshua said: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:35 NASB) Notice, it says that His disciples/followers/talmidim will be known for their love one another! Sadly, I have seen many people turned off from Yeshua because people who claimed to be His followers did not show love to one another.
I NEVER want to be one of those kinds of people…the ones who do not see or who see and do not try to help. I don’t have much in the way of resources, but I have heart. I can love and give support to others on an emotional and spiritual level. I can reach out to others, even if all I can give is myself. Having Post Traumatic Stress may put some limitations on me, but it does not take me completely out of the game. Even if all I can do is little bits here and there, every little bit I CAN do helps.
What about you?