Homeless Man Teaches Me about Compassion


For the person who thinks we have nothing to learn about compassion … I just hope your eye doesn’t get infected. Or maybe, I do.

Here’s why: On a Saturday, I’d spent the day committed to street ministry, to loving on my homeless friends. I stopped on street corners and hung out at the camps. I laughed with many. Sighed at some. And prayed and met new friends, too. Even had a firm conversation with another.

The Lesson Is Painful

By the afternoon, my right eye burned and became sensitive to light. The white part of my eye turned a blistering red.
Now since, I’d gotten one of my homeless friends his eye medicine at a pharmacy, I started to wonder if he was contagious. His eyes were beyond red, and we had hugged, after all. And eaten lunch together.

Then by Sunday afternoon, my right eye stung with each blink. The rubbing of my eyelid over the cornea felt like sandpaper. I grimaced and whined and knew I had a problem.

I took my contacts out much later than I should have, and the pain grew with each tear streaming down my face.

I blasted my eye with over the counter eye drops, which seemed to burn like hot grease. I was unable to focus. Unable to fight off the constant irritation and throbbing. Unable to find relief. By now, I was sure my friend gave me his sick-eye-yuck.

The Lesson Isn’t What I Thought

On Monday morning, I could barely open my eye, called the eye doctor, and he worked me in for an appointment.

On my drive to his office, I wore my sunglasses over my regular glasses to keep the glare from ripping my right eye from its socket, the piercing stabs constant.

I couldn’t help but think of my friend who carried his prescription around for an entire week without relief, and how both of his eyes were like blood. And here I was falling apart after two days.

This sent me to my knees. Sent me to God. To pray for real compassion. I don’t want to go through kindness-motion like it’s a check list. I want the Lord to guide me. To use me.

I want to sense the urgency of the pain at which some of my friends endure and suffer. And mostly, to sense the urgency of the lost souls who need Christ. Those homeless. Those with a home.

I thank the Lord that my pain was a reminder to pray for my dear friend, too. To pray for his salvation. For his deliverance. For his victory walk in Christ to take hold. That my friend might receive a new heart. With new eyes to see God’s grace. And mercy.

I wept at the Lord blessing my friend with the discount for his medicine, too. That was huge.

And I wept at how the Lord used my eye pain to soften my own heart.

I pray that I will look at each soul with true compassion. That I will love with the love of Christ. That I will do good works for the Lord, and give Him glory in all things. That I not take anything for granted. That I become less, and that I make much of the Lord.

There Will Be More Lessons

Sure it’s been a few days now, and my eye is better. Some. And yet, I am thankful for the abrasion. Mostly.

My small suffering, and it is small, is nothing compared to suffering without Jesus. Or how much Christ suffered for us on the cross.

Even as kind as I thought I might have been on my outing, I need to remember that giving of myself should require true “selfless” giving. And be centered on sharing the gospel.

My injured eye had nothing to do with my friend’s red eyes either, but had everything to do with the Lord scraping away

the hard cornea of my heart.

May I truly love like Him when I see someone who is hurt, lonely, afraid, angry, worried, or lost.

“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”

Luke‬ ‭10:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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