When I Look Into Their Eyes
I have seen some pitiful folks in my time. It is not the ragged clothes I see or their crippled limbs but their eyes that give me a glimpse of their misery and hopelessness. I believe every person was granted to BE by God; this in itself makes me to know that there is dignity in every life. Many choose to go a path that is not God’s best but some seem to have it thrust upon them by poverty, abuse, sickness, or where they were born. I have come to know with more awareness and certainty of the dignity of every human being. I know Christ loves them just as He loved the women He saved from a stoning, the demoniac He delivered from legions of demons, and even my wretched soul.
Too many times, I have watched the poor fellows pulling the bouèt (rugged Haitian wheelbarrow) in the streets of Haiti. The bouèt is pulled not pushed. It has two full-size tires which all seem to wobble and the long handles are grasped from the underside with the cradle of the elbow and over the top to the hands. These men lean forward in their struggle, pulling a load that would fill a small pickup. My heart goes out to them. It is difficult work and if employed for much of their lives surely it leads to an early death. They haul anything someone will pay them to transport. The men who pull these loads wear cheap plastic sandals and some are barefoot. When you look into their eyes, they are usually dull from their constant weariness and “Is this all there is?” Maybe my heart breaks more than their heart because their heart has already died and resigned to their fate but I have seen over the wall of their hired slavery.
Once on the streets of an Asian country as we were going slow in a frequent traffic jam; the small area between lines of cars were sprinkled with beggars going from car to car looking for a few rupees from the various travelers. They would ask with an outstretched hand and lonely eyes, pausing briefly for a possible rupee, and then move on. Coming through the cars, an odd looking beggar dressed in women’s apparel caught my attention as the beggars were typically men but then I noticed this too was a man; I could tell from the build, gait of his walk, and masculine facial features. It was a transgender person—a very rare appearance in the country especially. I was sitting on the passenger front seat when the beggar approached the driver’s window with a forlorn look. I am in disagreement with this lifestyle from a biblical perspective yet I saw a troubled soul in his eyes. Briefly our eyes met and Holy Spirit allowed me to see through his eyes and into his soul—pain, hopelessness, dejection, loneliness, and un-loved. I will never forget the deep brown well of despair in his eyes. I wanted to give him hope in Jesus instead of a crumpled rupee but then he moved to the next car.
Closer to home, I have sat across the table in a small Alabama city jail talking to the inmates who are dressed in orange and white and some in green and white. Most are young men under thirty-five and with an assortment of tattoos and trouble. They are young but look too old in a weird way—they have lived too hard, too fast with too many bad decisions; most are addicts. I look past the cockiness in some, disinterest in a few, to see the desperation in their eyes. They have that look of, this is my life—a lifetime to go with trouble outside these walls and time inside these walls. Yet their greatest wall is the one in their hearts and minds. I relish in the opportunity for this gray-haired father to tell my young, tattooed listeners; they have more life to live than they have lived, and yes, they can turn it around with Jesus. They can stop this craziness and allow Jesus to deliver them from sin’s destruction.
We are commanded by God to love our neighbors as ourselves. We can never do this by looking at others with eyes of superficiality or even judgment. We can’t just look at tattered clothes and cheap plastic sandals or jail house garb with green tattoos or even odd looking men in foreign women’s clothes; we must look into their eyes. We must look into their eyes to see past their craziness and see them as what they could be redeemed by God. When Jesus was confronted by the demoniac with a naked body and glazed eyes on the seashore, others saw something horrifying but Jesus loving him, foresaw a man sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. When we look past the obvious and into their eyes with the eyes of Jesus, we may be surprised what we see!
Scripture: Matthew 25:40 NKJV “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”
Prayer: Jesus, please help me to see as you see. Never let me become distracted by my own blessings to not see the needs of others. Never let me get too comfortable with my own salvation to not see the lostness in others. I need your help to look into the gateway of the soul–the eyes of my fellow travelers on this planet. Many are silent with their mouths but their eyes are screaming–help me to hear what I am seeing.
On the Journey with Jesus,
Harry L. Whitt