Down and out- Homeless man in tattered clothes explains his downfall

I sure didn’t see the punchline coming in a joke Bill Gori shared here while back about a homeless man’s answer when someone asked him how he ended up like that.

“Until last week, I had it all,” the homeless man said. “I had plenty to eat. My clothes were washed and pressed. I had a roof over my head. I had HDTV and Internet. And I went to the gym, the pool and the library. I was working on my MBA online. I had no bills and no debt. I even had full medical coverage.”

“What happened,” the fellow asked. “Drugs? Alcohol? Divorce?

“Oh, no. Nothing like that,” the homeless man replied. “I was paroled.”

Bill, a retired judge from the upper Adirondack Mountains, is gracious to share humorous and inspirational emails with his friends. When his emails arrive, we all eagerly open them, because we know they’ll contain something we all need: an uplifting story, an amusing take on the news of the day, a laugh and a smile.

The Bible tells us that Bill is actually delivering medicine of sorts to each of us.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

You realize the Bible is filled with scriptures that should make our hearts merry. We can get caught up in negative thoughts that can make us miserable. But if we open God’s word, we will find encouragement.

We say: “It’s impossible.” God says: “All things are possible” (Luke 18:27). 

We say: “I can’t go on.” God says: “My grace is sufficient” (II Corinthians 12:9). 

We say: “I can’t figure things out.” God says: “I will direct your steps” (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

We say: “I can’t do it.” God says: “You can do all things” (Philippians 4:13). 

We say: “I can’t forgive myself.” God says: “I forgive you” (I John 1:9 and Romans 8:1).

We say: “I can’t manage.” God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19).

We say: “I’m always worried.” God says: “Cast all your cares on me” (I Peter 5:7). 

We say: “I’m not smart enough.” God says: “I give you wisdom” (I Corinthians 1:30).

We say: “I feel all alone” God says: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

We may be moved with compassion when we see someone in tattered clothing sleeping on a park bench. But do you know, we encounter people every day who are sad and hurting and in desperate need of an encouraging word.

My friend Bill offers that kind of encouragement. And, so should we.

Roger Alford offers words of encouragements to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at