The beggar, obviously disheveled and cold, sat there on his knees with the sign in his hands. On the busy sidewalk outside of the Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta, the crowd filed hurriedly past him at the conclusion of the concert – each hoping to get to their vehicle and exit before the traffic conditions deteriorated. The sign wasn’t typical. It didn’t ask for anything or exclaim that he was a “homeless Vet needing…” There wasn’t even the typical statement of “anything will help…God bless.” No, there were only three words. Three words that are now forever burning my soul – “I Am Famished”.
Immediately, my heart was moved to compassion and I reached for my wallet. I knew that I had some money that I could give this fellow, but at the same time I realized that I was being rushed by the throng of people behind me. I couldn’t hold up traffic for this beggar, could I? Besides, he was probably part of a scam and has strategically set himself there at the conclusion of all events hosted at the Fox. My mind quickly weighed the options and I succumbed to the later. Yes, it was likely just a scam. He would just take the money and purchase drugs or something destructive. I will not be an enabler. I passed him by.
Now I sit here at my keyboard haunted by the person…haunted by those three words. Try as I might, I just can’t get his image out of my mind. I hurt and I am ashamed. I, the one that claims to be a child of God, allowed a fellow human being to continue to suffer when I had the means to help. Furthermore, I felt that my heart was genuinely moved to compassion to help, and that has always been my measure of using wisdom in these matters. I felt…no…I KNOW that God moved me to give and I did not obey! Thus I now find myself forever haunted by those three words “I AM FAMISHED.”
“Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.” Proverbs 28:27
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40