“Don’t I recognize you?” a woman said as I sat next to her on a park bench. It was a cool September afternoon in the heart of Washington D.C. Flanked by buildings that house government agencies, humanitarian organizations, and nonprofit institutions lies a stretch of greenery that serves as a place of hope for those who live on the streets. When I heard the question, I turned to her and said, “Maybe you do,” knowing I’d recognized her. She said, “Yeah I do! You were here handing out lunches two months ago.”
Every month I join the Sligo Young Adults group in our monthly outreach in downtown DC, where we pass out nearly 80 sandwiches we’ve prepared for people who are homeless in downtown D.C. During my previous visits to this location I met Phyllis, the woman whom I was speaking to. She took a second glance at me, noticed the crutches at my side and the exhaustion on my face and asked how I hurt myself.
I told her I was one month into my recovery from rupturing my Achilles tendon. I also told her this was not even a year after I had fully recovered from my fourth knee surgery over a span of 9 years. “God’s gonna give you double for your trouble,” she said after hearing my explanation. But what happened next completely altered the way I viewed my injury. This woman, who was homeless and struggling to secure a job while battling cancer, took the time to fervently petition God on my behalf. For seven minutes, Phyllis asked God to bless me and my ministry. She also asked for God to keep me sustained as I recovered. It was one of the sincerest prayers I’ve ever heard.
Back in the van on our way back to Sligo, I began to reflect on what had just transpired. I realized up until this point that I’d just been going through the motions in my participation with the homeless outreach. And on this day in particular, as I struggled with my crutches and ached in pain, I really wanted to stay home. Little did I know that God had prepared Phyllis to minister to me, even though it was my objective to minister and encourage her. Seeing her strength and perseverance, gave me an understanding of what it means to have patience and trust in the Lord.
Hebrews 10:35, 36 says “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
My interaction with Phyllis was a much-needed reminder that God placed in my life to reaffirm my direction and devotion to his work. Often we get lost along the way and lose confidence in His promise. Psalms 37:23 says, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” God sees everything we face and promises to be with us every step of the way, whether it’s battling a physical injury, undergoing stress at your job, or trying to figure out where you fit in at school, He promises to sustain us and carry us.
“Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22