To most of us in America, Thanksgiving Day is all about three things: turkey, football and a day off. Quite honestly, I’m a big fan of all of those things. Unfortunately there are many for whom this day has no meaning. They have lost hope amid the struggles and trials of our modern society. They have become too bitter to be thankful for anything; they are simply in need. For those of us with Christ in our lives, we have something to give. We have hope for the future, and we have love. These gifts are not to be hoarded; they are to be given away.
I’ve been reading the book “Street Lives: An Oral History of Homeless Americans” recently. It’s a collection of firsthand accounts of living on the street. It is truly heartbreaking to read their stories. While the language and subject matter can be a bit rough at times, I encourage you to read this book or books like it. We are so isolated in our comfortable homes and neighborhoods. Few of us know what true hunger feels like. Even fewer know what it’s like to have no bed, no home and no hope. While there are many shelters that do a good work, there are far more that are abusive and even perpetuate the mindset that keeps people living in despair. The number of children and veterans among the population of the homeless is staggering. Many of the homeless have no family remaining, no place to turn for help and no one to love them. They are truly the orphans of America, regardless of their age.
As followers of Jesus we are called to care for the orphans. What are we doing to help? For most of us, helping involves giving to shelters and inner city ministries, and probably buying some groceries or meals for those in need. This is necessary and admirable, but it does not go far enough. Food for the belly is obviously important, but food for the soul is paramount. We need to feed more than their stomachs. We need to feed their hearts, their minds, and their self worth. We need to clothe them not only with blankets and coats, but with love. What can you do to help? What can I do? We must come together and do something about this crisis. Why? The answer is simply because Jesus said to do so; that is enough. We who choose to follow Christ have an obligation to do the things He did. As the orphans in need of love cry out to us, they convict us of that which we are not doing. None of us can end homelessness by ourselves. We can, however, love one person. Together we can solve the problem in our cities by determining that we will not tolerate the way homeless orphans are treated.
The love of God provides the love, strength and hope that we all need. There is enough for us to bask in and still have plenty in reserve to give away. I am thankful for the love of Christ. I am thankful that He saved me. I am thankful that I am not an orphan. Yet I am thankful for the orphans all around us, for they are opportunities to share the immeasurable love of Christ. We must put aside our fear, our prejudices and our preconceived notions; it’s time to reach out and love the orphans all around us. Put your arms around someone in need today, and rejoice in the opportunity to be able to do so. Be thankful for all you have, and then give others something to be thankful for as well.