Just keep on walking, for I have nothing to give.
How many times have I said this to myself as I walked past someone struggling, convincing myself there was nothing I could do about it so why try? How many times have I ignored that uncomfortable feeling I feel when I see someone’s pain out in the open. With the way the world is right now? Almost every day. So many hurting people.
It seems more and more often I am seeing people struggling all around me. Humans living in isolation. Humans struggling to pay the bills. Humans hurting from broken relationships. Humans living with loss and grief. Humans sleeping on the ground with no home. Humans making bad choices to survive the only way they know how. Humans sitting on a church pew with tears in their eyes, in obvious pain. Hurting humans everywhere.
Somehow, I have convinced myself that I have nothing to offer them. Why would I stop if I can’t fix it? I cannot cure anxiety. I cannot afford to pay someone’s rent or past-due bills. I cannot mend marriages and parent-child relationships. I cannot bring that person back. I cannot stop homelessness. I cannot make someone walk a straight path and force them to make better decisions. I cannot fix family drama or heal shame. Why would I get involved if I can’t change it?
Sometimes, I even convince myself that I was doing them a favor, protecting their privacy by not asking. It was better to just be polite and not intrude into their personal business. It was better just to not draw attention to their suffering. Don’t stare, it is impolite. Just keep walking.
Peter didn’t keep walking. He stopped. In Acts 3, Peter comes upon a beggar and knows he has no money to give him. He could have just kept walking. Instead, he stopped and gave him what he had. Healing.
Now I am quite sure I am not going to be physically healing people as Peter did anytime soon. But that isn’t the part of the story that got my attention. It was the part where even though Peter had no money to give, he stopped anyway. He took the first step when he stopped. He took the fist step to hear this man’s story.
I cannot solve all the human problems and I can’t take them away . . . but I can stop. I can stop and look them in the eye and offer what I do have. Ears. Mouth. Mind. Heart. I can see them. I can hear them. I can let them tell me their story. I can tell them the story of the one who helps me. What if that was the real need?
What if, underneath all those problems, all they wanted was to be seen? To be heard? To be understood? What if I was not the one meant to take it away but the one meant to plant a seed? What if being seen IS the beginning of healing for them?
Those are all things I can give. After all, somewhere along the way, someone gave that to me. That is the only reason I can sit here and write these things to you. Someone granted me the gift of being seen. Of being heard. Of being understood. Someone stopped. Someone planted a seed that started healing.
I have more to give than I think.
I have time. I have the ability to listen. I have the ability to comfort and pray and look them in the eye. I have the ability to love. After all, isn’t that what we all want? To be loved? To know we are not alone? How can they know if I don’t stop and tell them?
This may be one of the best gifts I could ever give, and it doesn’t cost me a dime. But I can’t give it if I keep walking. I can’t give it if I don’t look. Uncomfortable or not, I must give what I have, one stop at a time.
Peter knew that man had a story to tell and he let him tell it. Then the healing began. Now that is walking the walk.
Lord, stop me in my tracks with your compassion. Let me mirror it in all I do even when I think that I do not have anything to offer. May I never forget that what I have to offer is you.