Reading: Proverbs 19:1-29
In the summer of 1973 one of the most famous, rich and popular men on the planet, John Lennon, wrote “Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out)“. The song is written during a period in which he felt disappointment at the perceived negative reception of his work and was experiencing a separation from wife Yoko Ono. The song reflects his deep feelings of depression and loneliness. I think this song captures some of the feelings chapter 19 (vs 4,6,7). If we are honest, it’s often easy to avoid the ‘poor’ and the ‘poor in spirit’.
“Nobody loves you when you’re down and out
Everyone sees you when you’re on cloud nine
Everybody’s hustlin’ for a buck and a dime
I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine”
“Nobody loves you when you’re old and grey
Nobody needs you when you’re upside down
Everybody’s hollerin’ ’bout their own birthday
Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground”
People often express surprise that those who ‘have it all’ get depressed. It’s as if there is an unwritten equation in our society that says ‘Money‘ + ‘Career‘ + ‘Family‘ + ‘Significance‘ = ‘Happiness‘. If one of those is missing then society seems to understand that we can be unhappy and depressed. However, as in the case of John Lennon and many others, we can have all those things and still experience depression and loneliness. The problem with the equation is that it seems to imply that if we work harder to gain those things ‘money’, ‘career’ etc., or if we change our circumstances we will be happy. However, depression is much more than a lack in our circumstances. We saw yesterday Solomon write profoundly, ” The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14).
God never turns away the poor, the broken and the hurting. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3). God didn’t just feel sorry for us or sympathise with us, he went much further, his son carried our griefs and pains as well as our sin on the cross. (Isaiah 53:4). Moreover, God invites us to be part of his ministry of reconciliation, Solomon writes “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (17).
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. (Isa 61:1-3 / Luke 4:18-19)
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17)
Father, I come to you in my brokenness and ask for your touch, your healing. Lord, use me to comfort with the comfort you have given me. In Jesus name. Amen.
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