September 12, 2009

Reaching Out to Those Who Need Us

Psalm 146

Religion that God … accepts as pure … is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …
James 1:27


In the Bible God’s care for people who cannot help themselves is unmistakable. Today’s psalm tells us that God “watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow.” Jesus tells us that whatever we do for such people we do for him (Matthew 25:40).

In those days widows had no rights, and few people, if any, went out of their way to help them. Orphans were often left to fend for themselves without anyone really caring. If James were writing to us today, he might also mention single parents, special-needs children, the unborn, migrant workers, the elderly, and any others in our society who are left to fend for themselves, who have no one to speak up for them.

It’s easy to walk past people who need our help. A father of a special-needs daughter once told me that in all the years that they had cared for her no one in their church had ever asked if they needed any help. The parents never once could go to church together because no one ever offered to stay with their child.

Ask a widow over for Sunday dinner. Take a widower out for lunch. Make a contribution to an orphanage. Offer to stay with a special-needs child to give the parents a much-needed break. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. That’s “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless” (James 1:27).

Father in heaven, open our eyes to see the needs of people who need our care. Help us to show the compassion of our Savior. In his name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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