I took my first trip to the local homeless shelter recently. This wasn’t my first experience at a missions shelter but it had been the first in quite awhile. I wasn’t sure what to expect but figured I would
force myself jump in and start conversations where it seemed natural.
I prayed prior to leaving that I would meet someone that I could really get to know and encourage. Make a new friend and see another side of God’s love.
I sat at a table with a guy who seemed pretty unfriendly at first. He spoke quietly and said little. After a few intro questions he told me that he was in a bad mood because he just finished one of the worst days of his life.
He was on the verge of losing his job (for reasons he did not share) and that he felt as if God was laughing at him in heaven. His sentiment was that he was in the midst of a tough trial and God cared nothing about him. Quickly into the conversation, my fears started to arise. What should I say to encourage this guy? I know Jesus loves him but he just told me he was cursing God so I’m sure he doesn’t want me to tell him how much Jesus loves him. So… I just continued to listen.
He told me a little about his background and that he had met Christ about 11 years ago as a teen. He had been lifted out of some tough situations (drugs, gangs, etc.) but on many occasions in the past he wished he would have just stayed in that lifestyle. God never blesses him he said. I am done with God and I’ll be walking this trial alone he declared. I asked him if he had tried to walk trials alone in the past. Yes, was his answer. How did that work out for you I asked? Not real well he responded.
He continued to say he felt as if God was sitting in heaven laughing at his troubles. I told him God didn’t send his son to be persecuted, tortured and killed for you, to just laugh at your pain. I believe God is suffering right along with you.
I found myself continually asking God for wisdom throughout our conversation. What was I to say? “Lord, encourage him, even through my inadequate words,” I prayed over and over.
My heart was broken for my new friend, Luis, as we will call him. The brokenness of life was being thrust right into his face. I realized later, when I have a bad day I have a loving wife with which to share my frustrations. She will listen and love me though the pain. If she is not around I can call friends, family or even people in my small group. I have people in my life who value me and encourage me. Luis was alone, with no one who could share in his frustrations.
I imagine that would be the sentiment of many in the room that night. No one who cares (loneliness) and a God who seems angry and frustrated at their problems.
I know Luis is not meant to walk life alone. He needs to accept God’s love and be surrounded by people who show him that they care. I hope I was able to do that, even in the midst of some awkward questions and silence.
Before leaving we decided this would not be our last conversation. I look forward to talking with my friend again. Oh, the fears of what to do next are very real, but I feel God wants to love Luis through me. I am not sure how to do it, but I am going to stumble my way through loving him, and trust that God will lead along the way.Image courtesy of Janne Moren / Flickr.com