The issues these brethren raise in our midst are, to be sure, vexing ones. We are not a resource-rich church, and despite the heroic efforts of many in our congregation, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to deal with the deep and complex situations they find themselves in.
And yet it is not hard to feel thankful for our hurting friends. For one, they affirm that we are what we are trying to become, which is a warm, welcoming, and loving church. For another, they are, in spite of and through their quirks, beautiful people.
And, importantly, the way they ask for help and the way they conceive of God is highly instructive to the rest of us. It calls to mind the deep lesson I took in while volunteering at Whosoever Gospel Mission one spring break. The men that were housed there were all recovering from some form of addiction, and their plight made for a very real understanding of the nature of sin in holding us back from the people God made us to be. I was humbled, shamed, and encouraged by the ways these men worshipped God, clung to God, and begged God for forgiveness and freedom.
And so I learn from many in my midst at our church. I am given a window into the fragility of humanity, the pain of disenfranchisement, and the despair of hopelessness. I am schooled in how to come naked and empty before a great God to be filled up and boosted up. Their expression of their felt need reminds me that I am no less needy, but perhaps not nearly as bold or honest as they are in feeling and acting on it. I am blessed for it.