Have you ever been so desperate you had to turn to cardboard?

Have you ever had to put your needs on a piece of cardboard for all the world to see?

This morning I saw a young man sitting at a gas station with a cardboard sign that said, “Ran out of gas. Please help.”

For many, the politically-infused mind kicks in and immediately begins to question how this young person failed to the degree they’re publicly begging for help.

Last night, a Facebook friend raised the question why some people share their personal needs on Facebook, questioning why they don’t talk to real friends instead, and pointing out that all of us need to have a circle of family and friends to go to when we have problems.

What so many people miss when they process their thinking through platitudes or simplistic political positions is the reality of the world we live in. That world is plagued with sin, evil, and brokenness.

Could it be this young man needs help because the high unemployment rate for youth has made him a statistic? Could it be that he doesn’t have help, and others turn to Facebook friends because families often are not loyal, and friends who walk in the front door during good times often run out the back door during hard times? Could it be that many have tried to use the governmental safety net, only to be denied there as well? Could it be people are more desperate today because even the church stereotypes them and rejects them, rather than loving them as Christ has loved us?

Could it be that people put their needs and express their desperation on a piece of cardboard for all the world to see not because they have failed in some way, but because others have failed them?

So great is the plight of so many today that sometimes the need is so desperate that they write it on a piece of cardboard and stand out in public, hoping and praying that someone in this world will see them and their need and simply care.

Not judge them.

Not ignore them.

Not look down on them.

Not see them as deplorable failures.

Not devalue them.

But see them as people who, like everyone else, are created in the image of God and need someone on this planet who simply, plainly, cares.

Jesus saw these people and had compassion for them.

Do you see them? If you do, how do you respond?