Justin Keller, an entrepreneur, developer and founder of a tech startup recently wrote an open letter to Mayor Ed Lee and police chief Greg Suhr of San Francisco to tell them just how tired he is of looking at homeless riff raff. [emphasis added]
The residents of this amazing city no longer feel safe. I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day. I want my parents when they come visit to have a great experience, and enjoy this special place.
Wow. I would love to be able to say I’m surprised by this but I think many people, although they may not be as bold and callous about it, feel exactly the same way about homeless people as Mr. Keller does.
Think about what he wrote for a minute and let it sink in:
I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair
The letter goes on to appeal to the local government to do something about the people Mr. Keller has grown tired of looking at along with a friendly reminder that it can be done because over Super Bowl weekend “almost all of the homeless riff raff seemed to up and vanish.”
Are there many people in our society that are hard to look at, hard to care about, and even harder to love? Of course.
Have local governments often made the plights of some of its citizens worse with policies that do next to nothing but enable? Of course.
So, is an open letter appealing to those in power to do something completely unjustified? No, not at all.
But to ask that some of God’s people be rounded up and hidden from view so we don’t have to look at them is reprehensible.
In my experience with the homeless and materially poor, I don’t see only pain, struggle, and despair. Instead I often see hope, faith, and love that is often far greater than that of the arrogant, entitled, perpetually inconvenienced and annoyed rest of us.
Last night my family and I were serving Thanksgiving dinner to homeless and materially poor people at an urban outreach ministry when we met Mary.
Mary captured our attention when we saw her dancing, singing, and praising The Lord for no discernable reason.
I spoke to her and learned that she is a homeless former prostitute and drug addict who has recently overcome cancer by, what she claims, is the power of prayer.
“Praise The Lord!” She said.
“I had no idea so many people were praying for me, praise The Lord.”
“Praise The Lord! Praise God! Praise Jesus! I am so blessed.”
Mary has lived a horrible life of bad choices, pain, suffering, crippling poverty, sexual abuse, and deadly disease, yet she was enthusiastically praising God for blessing her, loving her, and being good to her.
Next time you think there is no reason to have hope, think of Mary.
Next time you think you are a victim of circumstance, think of Mary.
Next time you are down on yourself because you own little or nothing, think of Mary.
Next time you are sick, think of Mary.
Next time you think you are unloved, think of Mary.
And while you are thinking of Mary, think also about a God that loves you just as much as He loves her and show your gratitude in a spirit of true thanksgiving.
From one end of the Bible to the other we are commanded to be thankful in all circumstance. In fact, thankfulness is the natural outflowing of a heart that understands God’s love.
The psalmist declared, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” (Psalm 147:7, NIV).
Mary, who has literally nothing but God’s love, understands this as we all should.