Words from the Heart for Thursday December 29th, 2016
Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.
Proverbs 21:13 (NIV)
The Cry of the Poor
It is good to pray, but prayer without action will not work. Ask God to make you responsive to the needs of others. Consider how you might give to a charity that helps relieve people of poverty and gives them spiritual guidance in the process.
It is well known that poverty puts a burden on Canada’s public medical system. Those who live below the poverty line have a much higher rate of illness, and spend more time visiting doctors and hospitals. But a recent survey in Hamilton showed something else quite shocking when it comes to the impact of poverty. There is a 21-year gap existing in life expectancies from best to worst across Hamilton neighbourhoods. For example, the average age of cardiovascular emergency patients was 57 years old in an east-end neighbourhood. By contrast, in one Stoney Creek neighbourhood, the average age of a cardiovascular emergency patient was just over 79 years old. In one east-end neighbourhood, the rate of cardiovascular-related emergencies was 27 per 1,000 people. By contrast, one rural Flamborough neighbourhood had a rate of just one cardiovascular emergency visit per 1,000 people.
We Canadians call the day after Christmas Boxing Day. But on the Church calendar it is the Feast of St. Stephen and there is a famous hymn that was written for that day. Good King Wenceslas went out, on the Feast of Stephen. While we sing it during the Christmas season, it is actually a song about compassion and providing for the poor. One of the key themes of the Bible is care for those who are poor and in pain. One of the marks of being a follower of Christ is caring for widows and orphans. Solomon wrote about God’s call to His people to hear the poor when they cry. Proverbs 21:13 says “Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.” Those of us who have given our lives to Jesus Christ are given a great responsibility. Of all people, we ought to appreciate how much we have received. Jesus has given us the gift of eternal life and continue to pour out His blessings on us. And because we have received so much, He expects us to share with others out of our abundance. It is always a temptation to shut our ears – and eyes – to the needs of the poor. But followers of Jesus are not given that option. To whom much has been given, much is required. How can you hear the cry of the poor today and respond?
These have been words from the heart.