Before we get to the grouping, let me further say that not everyone fits into every category, and there are some fortunate individuals who fit into none of them. These lucky souls are the ones who are extremely lucky, blessed beyond measure, or wearing rose-colored glasses so that they cannot see the reality of the world around them and their own situation.
- There are harassed people. The harassed people are those who have set a standard that they cannot meet. They are trying to live up to expectations that are beyond their grasp. These people have over-extended themselves and now are in trouble because of it. Harassed people are also those who are subject to discrimination and prejudice of all sorts. They are too young, too old, too disabled, too black, too female, too foreign... Perhaps you feel like you are harassed.
- There are helpless people. The helpless people are truly victims in our society. (This is distinctly different than those who choose to be victimized by their circumstances.) These are men and women who work hard, or would work hard. The cannot get a break from community, family, government or church. (These are not people who take advantage or "play the system.") Perhaps you feel like you are helpless.
- There are hopeless people. Hopeless people have just given up. They think that there is no point in trying anymore. There is no way out of whatever situation they are in. No one cares. There is nothing I can do. What's the use? Perhaps you feel like you are hopeless.
- There are hurting people. People who are hurting are those who have experienced one or more of the other problems. They might be afflicted with personal issues, health problems, relationship difficulties, job loss or food insecurity. These people are so discouraged that hopelessness would be an improvement for them. Perhaps you feel like you are hurting.
At Christmas all of our problems are aggravated. Our loneliness is emphasized as all those around us celebrate with family and friends. Our poverty is accentuated as our culture teaches us to want and to give more and more. We are reminded of our hunger as large family meals are prepared at all the neighbors'.
But no matter how harassed and helpless, not matter how hopeless and hurting, Jesus loves you and God has not forgotten you.