"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."1
As the late Karen Carpenter used to mournfully sing, "Loneliness, it's such a sad affair." How true this is for so many in today's digital world.
Not only at special holiday times such as Easter, Christmas, and birthdays, but also weekends are joyous occasions for many. For others these are some of the loneliness times of the year ... especially for those who are alone, for those who have lost their spouse or a child, and for single adults ... all of whom remember happier times and suffer a deep kind of loneliness at these times.
Many Daily Encounter readers have been there. Some are there right now. I've been there, too. I know the pain. This is why all of us need to be sensitive to the needs of all in our circle of relationships, remembering that many a smiling face hides an aching heart. We need to reach out to those who are lonely and hurting—invite him, her, or them over for a meal. Call them on the phone or send them an email to let them know you are thinking about them. Ask if there is anything you can do for them. Visit an elderly friend or neighbor. Provide gifts for the children of a family that is in deep need. Provide some food for the hungry.
I had a dear friend whom I met in kindergarten. We went all through grade school and technical college together. We'd been in national service together, too, and even though we'd lived thousands of miles apart, we never lost contact with each other. A while ago my friend fell on hard times, became discouraged, withdrew into himself and took his life. A tragic waste! Sadly, he never let me know of his struggle. How sad it is when, in our hour of need, as adults, we forget to hold hands and reach out for the help and support we need—so we can, as Jesus taught, "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ"—and practice pure and true religion!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You for all Your endless blessings given to me. Help me always to be responsible, loving, kind, a burden-bearer, and above all to be Christ-like in all that I say and do. And when I need help, give me the courage to reach out and admit that I have a problem and ask for help. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. James 1:27 (NIV).