It is quite common for us to see a homeless person on the street and think, “Geez, get a job!” Quite common and very unfortunate, because in our ignorance we don’t realize that it just isn’t as simple as that.
When you stop to really think about it, you realize that there are always (ALWAYS) deeper issues than pure laziness at play here. Severe to chronic mental illness and drug addiction — which can, obviously, keep a person from being able to hold down a job — is a leading cause of homelessness. And if you aren’t already suffering from mental health issues when you become homeless, the likelihood that you will soon develop mental issues, including depression and PTSD, is quite high. How often would you have to suffer rape, robbery and assault and the fear of all three before you lost your ability to function? Once? Twice? Three times? This is something the homeless have to content with every single day.
So the next time you see a group of loitering homeless people, instead of looking at them and thinking, “Get a job!” what if you looked at them with compassion? What if you looked at them and saw that they have banded together for safety in community? What if you looked at them and saw that maybe, just maybe, there is an underlying issue that if they had treatment, they could be helped up off the street? What if you looked at them with love and through the eyes of Christ? What would change in you? Would you still say, “Get a job!”?
Think about it. Then read this: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/27/mental-health-homeless-series/14255283/. And this: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/Mental_Illness.pdf.2