I am worried. Concerned. Not about myself, but about my friend Helena* (not her real name).
A while ago, Helena escaped from a physically abusive marriage, and she has been really struggling emotionally and financially since then. We met at a friend’s place and soon became friends. So, we started to meet up regularly for a coffee and a chat.
Later, she offered to help me with housecleaning. I always bought some food for her and also helped her fill out several online forms to access government support. Then my family moved, but Helena and I stayed in touch.
Recently, she told me how she’s dreading the winter. Her apartment is old and difficult to heat. She’s wondering if she will be able to pay her bills, especially because everyday life has now become so expensive.
Listening to her worries I was reminded of a particular excerpt from Derek’s book, What Jesus Would Do. It is a short section where he talks about Job’s attitude towards the poor and how you and I should adopt such an attitude today.
So, let me share with you what Derek said. You might find it helpful for serving people in your church or your local community who, like Helena, may struggle this winter.
In Psalm 103:6 it says:
“The LORD executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.”
I don’t think most of us realise how passionately God cares for the poor and oppressed. Most of the human race today is unjustly and unfairly treated. God cares about them. He loves them. He wants to help them, and He’s also very, very angry with those who oppress them.
Then Derek reminds us of how Job treated other people and comments on how challenging he, Derek, found that personally.
This is how his [Job’s] righteousness was expressed:
“I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know.” (Job 29:15-16)
Then, in Job 31, he says:
“If I have raised my hand against the fatherless, when I saw I had help in the gate [in the court]; then let my arm fall from my shoulder, let my arm be torn from the socket.” (Job 31:21-22)
This is a tremendous statement! He is saying, "If I haven’t used this arm of mine to bless the needy, to help the widows, to feed the hungry then it has no right to be on my body."
I get so challenged by these words. I have read them again and again and I’ve said to myself, this man Job had a standard of righteousness which we don’t even think of today.
I got a lot more than I should have gotten. But I have come to realise that most people are not really getting what they should. The basic reason for this is human selfishness. Everybody cares for himself.
Do you know you can be Pentecostal and very selfish? You can speak in tongues and be very self-centred, very concerned about yourself.
Then comes this wonderful promise in Isaiah 58:6-9:
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: ...Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him…? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily... Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer...”
Let me say this to you: the key to happiness is not being loved, it is having someone to love. That’s what makes life exciting. I am loved by many people though I don’t deserve it. But I tell you what really brings joy to my heart is to love somebody who is not loved, and to see the smile on their face when they say, "At last, I’ve got a friend."
"I have a friend." That’s what I want Helena to say about me.
I know I can’t solve all her problems, but I can – and will – find ways to make her experience just that: she has a friend who is willing to help her during this hard winter and the costof-living crisis.
My hope and prayer are that God will also give you opportunities to be a friend to someone who is struggling financially or emotionally in your church or local community.
Related teaching: What Jesus Would Do: Having God’s Heart For Those In Need