“I Hope You Get Cancer!”

“I hope you get cancer!”

Words no one wants to hear, much less have shouted at them. I can honestly say it was a new experience for me.

Several months ago, a group from our church wanted to do something to help the growing number of homeless and panhandlers we see on our street corners. We got together and assembled Ziploc bags full of protein bars, water, lotion, fruit snacks, trail mix and a Gospel of John.

Yesterday, I stopped on a quick run to lunch and approached a man asking for help (according to his sign he is homeless and has cancer). He approached, then saw the booklet and refused the bag saying, “I don’t want that, it’s full of spiritual materials.” I quickly replied, “OK, but at the end of the day isn’t that what is most important for all of us?” Also, written on his sign was a Christian fish symbol and the words “God Bless.”

His reaction was so quick and repulsive that when I play it back in my mind it only runs in slow motion. Cursing me, calling me judgmental and in general disgust he berated me as a person in everyway possible.

I drove away, hit the drive-thru line at Del Taco and pulled out with my bean burritos. Something tugged at me, so I slowed near my new friend and said, “Hey, no spiritual materials…do you want a bean burrito?” Before I could finish my sentence I was again verbally accosted. He rose up and started after my car. He began threatening my life. Then the words flowed, “I hope you get cancer you ________.”

How would you respond in this situation?

We can discount this guy as having mental issues (he probably does), we can label him as “the world” (1 John 3:13) and expect to be hated. I can label myself as being persecuted and hope for a badge in heaven. In the end my heart breaks for someone whose heart is so dark and destroyed. Someone who is completely broken and lost. A fellow human who sees no hope. It’s a humble reminder that we are all trophies of God’s grace.

Remember the words of Mark…

Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’” “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts… (Mark 7:15-20 NIV84)

I hope I see this guy again, and I pray his heart will soften.

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