Have you ever felt completely helpless to assist someone in need? Well, I have…
Several weeks ago, I happened upon a man lying in a ditch on the side of the road. My daughter and I were driving by on our way back from the gym. And there he was. Cars sped by on the road near him. One gentleman stopped to report it to a nearby worker. The worker called 911. Looking on, I noticed no one approached this man. My heart wrenched. What had happened? Was he drunk? Is he alive? Is this situation safe? Just then his leg raised and lowered again.
“I need to stop,” I told my daughter.
“Why, Mom? There’s nothing you can do.”
Or was there?
I carefully approached the man calling out to him from afar before moving in closer. He explained that he thought he could make the walk from his home to the pharmacy and back again, but after stopping to take a break on a rock, he couldn’t get back up. Here he had fallen and wasn’t sure how long he’d been lying there.
This kind gentleman was well into his 70’s and probably a foot taller and 75 pounds heavier than me. I knew I couldn’t physically help him. But when he reached out his hand to introduce himself, even in that predicament, I knew I had made the right choice.
For 30 minutes, we waited for the paramedics to arrive. And I did all I could for Joe which didn’t seem like much at the time. I just sat there in the grass beside him, and we talked. Joe kept reassuring me he would be fine and didn’t want to keep me. I assured him that I wasn’t going anywhere until help arrived. So what could I give? I gave Joe my attention. It wasn’t much. It cost me nothing but some time, but I think it spoke volumes to him because he wouldn’t stop thanking me.
In hindsight, isn’t that what most of us need? To know we matter to someone.
That day and often in life circumstances, we encounter hurting people. Frequently, we aren’t the “paramedic” who is to sweep in and actually fix the problem either because we are not equipped or not called to it. But in the meantime, we can always take the time to acknowledge their trials and listen to someone who has fallen in a ditch—even if it’s a ditch of their own making.
Is there someone in your life you’ve been avoiding because you don’t know how to help them? Perhaps you could just listen.
“…’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40b (NIV)