“Hey Doc, got a second?”
“Sure Jake, what’s up?”
“Gotta talk to you in private.”
Jake was a courier for one of the reference laboratories with whom our company worked with for the past five years. Jovial with an infectious care-free attitude, I and my staff eagerly awaited his arrival each morning to share a laugh or quick story. This morning was different. Usually, when someone desires to speak to me in private, it is to discuss a personal medical problem. I smiled and ushered him into my office and closed the door.
“Everything okay, Jake?”
“Yeah..yeah,” he said in a manner that was evident that it was not. “Uhh…remember last Christmas, you gave me that gift card for that restaurant?”
“Got any more of those?”
“I’m really hungry.”
I stared at Jake for a few seconds. His usual smiling facade had vanished. “What’s going on, Jake?”
“I’m really short this month and I don’t have enough money for food.” Jake averted his eyes, feigning interest in a text on his cell phone.
“No problem, Jake.” I fished out a gift card from my desk and handed it to him. Thanking me, he quickly exited our laboratory. We never spoke of this exchange again.
Many of us have experienced the pain of hunger in this country. Through churches and volunteer organizations, I have assisted in gathering and distributing food to those in need, interacting with hundreds of people. However, this was the first time that it affected someone who was more than a casual acquaintance to me. The face of hunger was my colleague.
“…Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:41-46 (ESV)
I suspect there are many more people, with whom I interact on a daily basis, who are like Jake. It is a difficult and sensitive topic and potentially embarrassing for someone to express their needs. I continue to pray to God to heighten my sensitivity to the physical and financial needs of those in my immediate circle of contacts and for everyone whom I meet, allowing me to minister to them in a sensitive and responsive manner.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.