A few days ago, a young woman who lives near me overdosed on Fentanyl. Her family drove her to a hospital and I think someone did CPR during the ride. She almost died, but the hospital staff were able to save her.
Something bothered me about that story, and then I noticed that they drove her in the family car; they didn’t call an ambulance. I don’t know the family but I guess they can’t afford a five-hundred-dollar ambulance ride every time their addict overdoses.
Transporting critically ill patients in a private vehicle is something we should never do; the ambulance crew might save a life before arriving at the hospital. But that ride has a cost, the whole system costs millions, with dispatchers, EMTs, vehicles and equipment, and sometimes helicopters. And life-threatening problems like drug addiction are becoming epidemics.
And another story; I keep the tickets from McDonald’s coffee cups. Where I live, each cup has a peel-and-stick ticket and a detachable card. Seven tickets will buy one cup of coffee. I don’t need anything free from McDonald’s, but I collect them diligently. We have dumpster divers in my neighborhood, people who search garbage bins for anything of value. When I see one of them, I give them a card for a cup of coffee. They always thank me.
Yesterday a man across the alley gave some cans for recycling to one of the homeless garbage pickers, redeemable for a few dollars, so I walked over and gave the homeless man a coffee ticket. He thanked us both, and I remember clearly that he seemed so normal.
Most of us are not wired to be alone, we need family and friends to help us manage; a church family can be a good thing. I would be in big trouble if I had to manage every part of my life alone.
I am saying this because it is obvious that most poor and homeless people have problems with self management, and this is made worse with drugs and alcohol, mental illness and other health problems, poor sanitation, lack of job skills, and the list can go on. We can easily dismiss them as hopelessly ill. Somehow, the homeless man in the alley fell through the cracks, but he looked like someone’s brother.
On the other side, success is expensive these days. Houses and apartments are amazing compared to the shabby boxes when I was a boy, but they are only for people with good jobs.
A trendy condo complex near me needed stucco repairs, and every owner got a bill for $40,000, and that was not negotiable. Between homeless and shining success is a huge gap and more and more of us survive in that gap.
I was in a small town recently and I drove by a campground. I looked around because I couldn’t imagine tourists camping in that town. Those residents looked like homeless and unemployed people, and the campground is really a shanty town. Cities like Los Angeles have huge numbers of camping homeless people, and the numbers are growing.
Refugees and migrants are flooding into wealthier countries with dreams of a better life, but they are learning that success is not available for everyone in those golden lands.
We are in a crisis, and most of us don’t know it yet. The secular god of this world is disappointing us again.
We used to take these words seriously:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. (Psalm 121)
More and more of us are living in a world where we need God’s help to live. I meet desperate unemployed people often, and I can’t explain how my life has worked. OK, I explain, but they don’t always accept what I say. When I trust God, things work out somehow., and that keeps happening.
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear what man shall do unto me. (Hebrews 13: 5 and 6)