The Real World


Occasionally we need a dose of reality. Sometimes, it’s good for us to step out of our comfort zone and see the world we never see. Yesterday I experienced that when I spent some time in the DHS (Department of Human Services). This is the place folks go to get food stamps, TennCare, or Families First.

I can’t explain the emotions that traveled through me as I “people watched” for the time I sat waiting for my appointment. I was angered at how a father disciplined his son. I was overjoyed at the site of a child using her imagination with her doll. I was perplexed at a mom crying at having to fill out application because she was struggling with feeding her child. I was confused at how some people think certain clothes were a good idea to wear. I was growing impatient wondering if the line I was in would ever diminish.

But mostly, I was made silent realizing I don’t see this side of life in my everyday life. I don’t associate with the hurting, the hungry, the sorrowful,  the  struggling, the down trodden, the poor, the miserable, the ‘futureless’, the hopeless, the people who simply wonder where their next meal will come from, their next moment of happiness will be sparked, their possible jolt of hope will be inspired on a daily basis.

I sat hopeless myself knowing there’s not much I could do personally. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that Jesus was the only hope they needed as if my words of hope would have sparked a revival of new committals to Christ but that too would have set a firestorm of a reaction. So I stood silently and prayed over each one as my gaze landed upon them. It was definitely a reality check for me.

It’s not that I haven’t seen the hurting before. I have a client that’s hooked on drugs, has a felony charge, can’t find a job and lives in a one bedroom house with three kids and no father. She pays her bills by her son’s disability check. She has seen her fiance literally gunned down in her front yard and left to die. I’ve seen the pain folks go through. I just have never seen such a conglomeration of pain, hurt and hopelessness in one place.

As a leader in the church, I believe our church is doing all we can to minster to those carrying a heavy burden like that. I also think I’m doing all I can to help those who everyday wake up to the mystery of survival without hope.

I guess what I’m trying to put together in this post if your reading is, if you don’t see these things in your community, take a day off and go to the DHS, a local tent city, or feeding shelter and just sit there and watch. Allow yourself to be impacted and pray about what you can do to make a difference. Even if it is a difference in just one person’s life, that’s a huge difference. We can’t ignore those who hurting to live.

I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone, your life bubble, your clique, and see the other side of the coin you’ve been living on and allow yourself to be challenged at making a difference in someone else’s life.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Prov. 21:13 He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need.

Prov. 28:27 If you give to the poor, your needs will be supplied! But a curse upon those who close their eyes to poverty.

Prov. 22:9 Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor.

James 2:14 Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone?

Luke 6:38 For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give–large or small–will be used to measure what is given back to you.”

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About Kevin Riner
child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Associate Pastor of GraceLife Church, author of Faith Debugged, musician and baseball enthusiast

4 Responses to The Real World

  1. An excellent reminder for us, brother. Thank you.

    • Kevin Riner says:

      Thanks for reading Jason. It hurt just as much to write it as it did to experience it. I only pray we can do more as an individual as well as a group of believers and even a country to make a difference.

  2. gabe says:

    yeah, buddy, but just because they’re at the DHS doesn’t mean their the ” the miserable, the ‘futureless’, and the hopeless.” Making a spectacle out of them isn’t kind either.

    • Kevin Riner says:

      Gabe, I’m not trying to generalize everyone in one stereotype. I understand not everyone because I was there. I was dressed in dress shoes and collared shirt with a briefcase. So I get that but you can obviously tell who’s hurting and those make up a majority of those that are there.

      Are you also saying I am making a spectacle of them? If your talking about people watching, there’s nothing wrong with that. I do it and expect others to as well. I am by no means making a spectacle!

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