There is a special group of people walking this planet. A group of people that all of the followers of Jesus should go out of their way to interact with in daily life. No, it’s not the group that you hear so much about. It’s not the high profile, the rich, or the famous. It is the distressed. James says that “religion” that God approves of, that which He gives the “thumbs up” to, is to care for, to look after the welfare of, orphans and widows “in their distress.”
Orphans and widows sure fit into the category of the special group of people that I referred to just a moment ago, but they are not the only ones “in distress” who are part of God’s special category. Let me show you what I mean. In Exodus 22:21-23, God was teaching the freed Hebrew slaves how they were to live since He had freed them. God says,
21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. 22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. (Exodus 22:21-23 NIV)
Psalm 68:5 says that God is “a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows…” In Malachi 3, God says that He is coming in judgment to His people, those among His people “…who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.” (Malachi 3:5 NIV) God has a soft spot in His heart for those who are marginalized, maligned, and mistreated. He has never, nor will He ever, allow His people to treat these folks like the rest of the world treats them. Rather than using or misusing them, we are to defend and befriend them.
Jesus, in the New Testament, took this truth to another level. In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, the separation of the righteous and the unrighteous, Jesus said,
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” (Matthew 25:34-36 NIV)
We are to “see” the invisible. We are love the unloved. We are to draw near to those who feel so distant, so alone in this world. We are to join with the distress so they might come to know the fellowship of Almighty God as His people love on them.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that chooses to care for those that You care so deeply for in this world.