12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. 13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. 14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. (Psalm 72:12-14 NIV)
As I read this morning’s Scripture from Psalm 72:12-14 I saw the faces of friends that God describes as “needy, afflicted, and weak.” For the past 20 years I’ve spent lots of time in a neighborhood where I’ve gotten to know people who, on a daily basis, face obstacles and hurdles that I don’t have to deal with in life. I’ve seen how poverty can box a person in and surround them with a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. I have friends who desperately desire a good education for their kids and yet they are stuck with a school where the students make fun of the kids who seek to excel academically. I know kids who are “needy” for someone to cast a vision of what life can be like and then walk with them while they pursue their dream. I know parents who are “weak” and worn out from the constant hurdles they try to overcome just to make a better life for themselves and their kids. I know mothers who are strong women of God, but weary of the daily battle to fight the pull of gang life that seems so enticing to their sons. I know families that are “afflicted” with violence in their neighborhood and they fear for the lives of their kids.
To compound the problem, there are voices in society that remind those who face these daily challenges that they “just need to try harder” as they tell them they will pray for them, get in their nice cars, and head back to their comfortable homes. When those who are “needy, afflicted, and weak” do try harder there are other voices, a sea of voices, that constantly belittle them for trying to be something other than what they are, and always will be.
The best help that society has to offer is another government program…another failed government program. God offers a different solution. God reminds those He describes as “needy, afflicted, and weak” that He hears their cry, He sees their struggle, He cares for them, and He will deliver them. We who are followers of Jesus cannot possibly say that we care and yet close our eyes and live as if we are unaffected by their struggle. James wrote,
15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”– but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? (James 2:15-16 NLT)
As I read Psalm 72 this morning the Artist painted a picture in my mind, a picture of the weary and weak cradled in His compassionate, strong arms. Then the painting became alive as I saw the Father turn from “them” and look into my eyes. He is calling me to do something. What will I do? Will I care for the “needy, afflicted, and weak” as the Father cares for them? As much as I care for my own family?
He is the Father of compassion and throughout history He has consistently, doggedly, called His people to do His work. He saw the plight of a bunch of slaves in Egypt and He looked into the eyes of a man named Moses and said, I’ve seen the suffering of My people…now go!” Today, He is speaking to me, “I’ve seen the suffering of My people in Oklahoma City…now go!” What will I do? What will you do?