They’re often overlooked in society. And when they’re noticed, they’re looked down upon. The high school dropouts. The immigrants. Teen parents. I hang out with young people like this more than once a week. I listen to them. I pray for their struggles. I hear their hearts.
What do their hearts say?
I’ve been abandoned. Most of the young people in the inner city are lucky to have one parent in their life. I only know of a few who have two. Parents are dead or in jail. Or they’ve simply walked away. Just last week—through tears—a young woman shared how her mom sent her away to live with her boyfriend, at age sixteen, because her mom was starting a new family with a new husband. And when I chatted with a friend who lived homeless for many years, he shared how he lost everything and everyone after having a mental breakdown.
I’ve been mistreated. They’ve been abused, neglected, and molested. They’ve been pushed down so many times they wonder if they can get up. They’ve been told they are worthless, sometimes with words. It’s just assumed by society that their lives won’t amount to anything. People who were supposed to love them hurt them. They find it hard to trust.
I’ve been told I’ll never amount to anything. No one expects much to change. No one encourages them to dream bigger or to dream at all. How their parents lived is how they’ll live—with the same daily struggles and addictions. Why even try?
What I tell them:
God chose you. God has always been with you, and He will always be with you. God loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life.
God wants to heal you. He didn’t cause evil to happen to you, but He knows how the sin of others impacted you. He’s cried with you. He’s captured every one of your tears in a bottle. He wants to take your life and make something beautiful out of it. He wants to bandage your wounds and bring healing to your life. He sees worth in you. He sees you as priceless, and He desires to do more for you than you will ever ask or imagine.
God uses who the world considers insignificant to do His greatest work. God’s own Son, Jesus, grew up in a place called Nazareth, the type of town no one likes to admit is his hometown. He was ignored—and later abused—by those who mattered, and he hung out with what we’d consider the low-lifes of his day: prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners. Yet while others talked about His friends, His Father God was pleased. God likes to use unlikely people to do the greatest work.
How do the overlooked and looked-down-upon respond to these messages? At first they question them. They have a hard time believing they are true. Yet after weeks and months pass they start to hope it’s possible. Some start to believe. Why? Because there are those who show up to love them. These Christ-followers don’t love them perfectly, but they point them to Someone who does. And maybe if people can love them as they are, God does, too.
How about you? Where do you need to ask God for the willingness to serve Him, however humble and hidden the service might be? Who in your life needs to hear these messages of hope? Do you look down on those from an insignificant or poor background, as the world does? Do you listen? Do you pray?
Jesus chose to hangout with people who realized they didn’t have their act together. They knew they needed Him. All of us need him, we just have to be humble enough to admit it.
And we have to be humble enough to step out and offer love to those who may never hear it any other way.
Where does God want you to start? Who does He want you to share these messages of hope with? Ask Him. He’ll be sure place a name or two upon your heart . . . or point you in the right direction—a direction you may never expect, but where God will do exceedingly more than you ask or imagine.
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