“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Isaiah 58:6-12
I have seen need. I have seen hunger. I have been witness to the ravage of disease. I have been asked to pray. I have felt useless. A quizzical eyebrow lifted to God wondering what He could possibly be up to in the middle of suffering and injustice. My efforts seemed gravely inadequate in the face of hardships I could witness but would never understand.
The call to stand with and provide for those who cannot is undeniable. It is command from the heart of a loving and gracious Father to look after those who cannot look after themselves. God’s heart beats with fondness and generosity for all. However, there is a special place there reserved for the foreigner, the orphan, the widow and those in distress. Why would He mention those specific groups of people so often in Scripture? Why else would He provide ways for them to be looked after by the community (Deuteronomy 14:29)? Why else would He equate pure and faultless religion with looking after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27)? My God is One who cares for all. He is brokenhearted by the distress of those who are the castoffs of our society. Those who do not seem to fit. Those that are forgotten.
Food, clothing, shelter – the basic necessities of life that I completely take for granted. Many in my city lack these essentials. They cry out, yearning for a ministering hand that will help meet the need.
In my wealth, I am often deaf to their needs, turning a blind eye away from their desperation. I have no excuse. No reason to not be hands and feet supplying what is needed out of my abundance.
There are many – countless individuals and organizations – who have heard the cry and are making a difference. A tangible difference with food, clothing and shelter. A listening ear to hear a story filled with pain and brokenness. A gentle touch demonstrating support and encouragement. A fervent prayer offered to a God of love who is always present. Hearts that are broken just as God’s heart is. Hearts that insist that they will stand in those places of brokenness and despair and bring the light of glory in.
A parking lot, covered in hard packed snow may seem insignificant, but it is holy ground.