Remember the six new friends I recently mentioned? I met them in early April at a local help-center known as “Greenhouse Ministries.” They share the plight of homelessness.
A middle-aged man named Fredrick is one of the six. He’s from the south side of Chicago, a place known for big-city poverty and crime. Fredrick is well-spoken and educated. He has a lot of Bible knowledge, too. For whatever reason, he ended up on the streets and eventually headed south.
I crossed paths with Fredrick and the other guys at a time when they’re attempting to dig themselves out of a hole. They’re making progress, but each has it’s own struggles. It’s hard.
I recently asked the group to reflect on our time together. More on their thoughts in a coming newsletter, but here’s a telling insight from Fredrick I’d like to pass on today. He wrote, “Broken lives need time and an opportunity to heal.”
Did you catch that? This man understands brokenness! Fredrick knows what it’s like to have the props knocked out. He’s felt the pain of hitting bottom. He’s acquainted with grief and despair. He’s facing his own mistakes. He’s come to grips with powerlessness.
Fredrick’s response reminded me of something Jesus once said. Matthew 5:3 is commonly translated, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That may be a good rendering, but Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message, seems to do a better job conveying the full impact of what Jesus said. Peterson puts it like this: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.”
Jesus says we’re blessed when we hit the bottom! Only when we’re out of rope do we finally and fully realize our complete and utter helplessness. Facing our own spiritual poverty helps us depend on God. Once that happens we’ve reached a good place – a place where God can reign and work. That may seem out of whack with human logic, but it’s a recipe for blessedness in the kingdom of God.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17