Dinner party

It’s one thing to lose a race outright. It’s quite another thing to win and then lose.

Maximum Security crossed the finish line first in the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, but the thrill of victory quickly turned into the agony of defeat.

Maximum Security was disqualified for an on-track infraction, and second-place finisher Country House was named the winner.

Have you ever had something that made you feel great—a dream job, dating the man or woman of your dreams, a big savings account, a pregnancy, a best friend—only for it to be taken away?

Mephibosheth, the grandson of King Saul, was a prince who was set to ascend to the throne after his father Jonathan. But everything fell apart.

Second Samuel 4:4 says, “(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)”

Mephibosheth lost his dad, grandpa, throne and the ability to walk in the same day. And his defining moment is in parenthesis in the Bible, as if a minor detail.

We may see someone’s struggles or successes and connect the dots to why they are the way they are only to forget the “parenthesis” moments that make up who they are today.

It could be why some people are always angry or make bad spending decisions or can’t commit to a relationship or struggle with an addiction.

A family member of mine is very serious all of the time, but it’s because as the oldest of five brothers, he had to help raise his brothers after his parents divorced and his mom worked late hours. He was forced to be serious.

We must be careful because we often step into people’s stories in chapter 10 rather than reading the previous nine chapters.

If you don’t know their backstory, or what’s in the parenthesis, you end up judging people based on appearances.

Mephibosheth moved off the grid to Lodebar—a desolate area roughly 80 miles from Jerusalem—because he felt like a failure and called himself a “dead dog.”

We need to realize that all around us there are messy people like Mephibosheth.

Their hearts are hurting and fragile. They’re confused, withdrawn, isolated and settled in anonymity. They need grace, not glares.

That’s where King David entered.

He asked, “‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’” (2 Samuel 9:1).

David finds out about Mephibosheth and invites him to eat at his table indefinitely. He restores his property and provides for his physical needs.

That’s the power of sitting across the table from someone and displaying God’s love by sharing a meal with them. When we sit face-to-face with someone, hearing their sorrows, fears and struggles, we’re filled with empathy, compassion and love.

David didn’t preach a sermon to Mephibosheth, send him off with a book on why bad things happen to good people or tell him to “man up.” He simply showed up and invested in him.

David reminds us we’re never too big or too busy for one person, and we shouldn’t be so overwhelmed by the multitude that we miss the one.

David once was unnoticed himself, lost in a sea of older brothers. But he remembered how much the Lord did for him when He took him from sleeping in a field to sleeping in a palace, and he wanted to show the same kindness to others.

How do you use your advantages to help the disadvantaged? Your food, money, time or home to bless the broken?

It has the power to change a life.

Tony Nochim is a staff writer for The Outlook.