Psalms 25:14-18 (NLT)
The LORD is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant.
My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress.
My problems go from bad to worse.
Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble.
Forgive all my sins.
Cities are strange places. The are a conglomeration of humanity, a virtual stewing pot of peoples lives. And yet, in our modern interpretation of cities, we all have walls. We drive to work in our own cars, or maybe catch a train with thousands of others – yet never saying a word to anyone. We read our books, fiddle with our phones, listen to our iPods full of teaching, music or something just plain funny to get us through.
We are surrounded by masses of humanity in a city – and yet, there is so little communication we may as well live like a hermit in a desert. It reminds me of the old sailors rhyme – water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink….
So what can you tell about a person just by looking at them? In most cases, not much at all. You might be able to see affluence in their clothing or dress (and yet you could just be seeing credit card debt and slavery to fashion ideals), you may be able to see someone’s general attitude by their expressions or the way they stand or sit (but who knows what hides behind those smiles). At most, you can sometimes tell if someone is tired, though that is no guide with the advent of coffee and energy drinks by the thousand. You used to be able to tell the poor at least by how they dressed, but even not all who appear to be poor are so – just as not all who appear to be rich truly are.
I sometimes wonder as I am walking through a mall, or driving in traffic through masses of suburbia, who are all these people? What are they doing? Do they know God? Have they even heard of Jesus, apart from in blasphemy? What hurts and crimes hide behind their walls? What amazing testimonies are buried under the mass of humanity that surrounds them?
I was reminded of this again when someone I talk with online shared his story with me – you can read it here. Until that time, I had no idea what he had been through in the past – the past was just something inside of him that we can’t see just by being around, or reading, or even talking with him.
But it was there, the whole time. And his story is just one of thousands, millions, even billions of stories out there of people who are hurting, who are in need, who need to find a way out and through the pain of this life.
There are a thousand ‘escapes’ from the pain that many people suffer (drugs, alcohol, and more), but they all lead to deeper depression and more hurt. There is only one place that we can all go to for healing – to the God who created us all. He alone can heal our hurts. And He alone hurts more than we do when He looks upon the fallen and sinful world we live in.
So next time you are driving through suburbia, catching the train with thousands, or milling with hundreds in the city or the mall, take a moment to think – who are these people? What are they really doing here? Behind all the nice clothes and pretty makeup, what true stories hidden behind their masked smiles? What skeletons are hiding in their closets?
I beleive once we come to this point that we start to see and feel the hurts of others that we will develop true compassion for them. We will start to take the time to pray for them, to talk with them, and to share with them – there is a God who cares, and cares more than even they can imagine.
And He is calling.