I was a poor graduate student in Portland, Oregon. Despite at one point, working four different part time jobs in addition to my class work, not owning a car (I rode my bike), I was going hungry and losing weight. My meals were wheat thins and avocados and way, way too much cereal. I reworked my coffee beans twice before I got new ground coffee. Maybe you too have had times of working your hind off and still hunger before you. Gratefully, I heard of a food bank and was able to stockpile my groceries there each week. Although, if I recall correctly, I remember trying to go when no one else would see me. I received love from strangers. People who had been in need perhaps themselves at some point, or just knew of the financial difficulties of many students. I am grateful to them… and I don’t even know their names.
As an American, I was subconsciously raised to be independent, self-reliant and maybe a little proud that somehow my “hard work” was what had got me to where I was. But maybe you too have been on the other side, working hard, and still dependent. I had been vigilant not to try and take out loans I didn’t have to. I had just paid off my undergrad working as a nanny and if I were to be a missionary, I knew I couldn’t afford to have much debt. One night I remember breaking down in tears with my parents. I’m hungry and stressed. I can’t take it– I don’t know how to cook for one! (Even though I had just cooked two years for a family of five.) My parents graciously helped pay for my meal plan so I could dine at the student center. I humbled myself and received help from my family.
So often we like to associate ourselves with what we see as the heroes of our Christian faith stories. We feel God’s approval when we are like the Samaritan who gave for the stranger in need. Or like Jesus, through God’s power we find ways of multiplying loaves to feed those who are hungry. We want to be the ones entertaining strangers and somehow meeting angels. But we must also be willing to identify with those who are broken- Jesus- the lamb who was slain. “Blessed are those poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” (Matt 5:3-4) And while we seek and pray, abiding by his Spirit we are faithful to follow the path of Jesus to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison. (Matt 25: 35-39) Yet, we must also realize that by the King declaring, “As you did to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me,” Jesus identifies with the hungry, the thirsty, he is the stranger, and the inmate. He is not above them and if he is not above them, we should not have undo shame when we experience them.
Autumn is here. As we look to bring in the harvest, may we remember how we sowed our seeds in hope that what died, brought new life- life that multiplies. We remember that it is God who has supplied our seeds and bread for food. We pray, like God, that we may be cheerful givers, just as God has so freely given to us.(2 Cor 9) And may we rejoice when God allows us the grace to be like him, to accept the gift of a brother or sister, in our time of need. May we humble ourselves as Jesus did, and accept the love of strangers and the care of our family. Knowing that even when we are weak– He is strong! (2 Cor 12:10). Praise be to Jesus.
Help me Jesus, to see my needs and to humbly receive help when I need it. Thank you that you make dead things come alive and you can multiply what is good for your glory.