‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ Isaiah 1.17
This book begins with God speaking through the prophet Isaiah. His words are uncomfortable as he complains about what he regards as ‘empty religion’. This refers to people observing the correct festivals and looking as if they are doing things in the right way, but actually they are bringing no pleasure to God. What he longs for is people who look out for those in need and bring healing to them.
Today you may well come across what seems to be an unfair situation. Perhaps you will hear of someone who is sick or in need and really doesn’t deserve what they are going through. If you are honest, there probably doesn’t seem to be much you can do to change this situation or the plight of the people around you, let alone the many other unjust events occurring across the world. However, Isaiah says that what brings God pleasure is when we at least begin to be bothered by it. He does not expect every person to personally solve the problems of the world, but he does expect us to be concerned; to support worthy causes, bring comfort when we can and to pray with compassion for those in need.
It is a brave prayer to ask God to open your eyes to those in need today. A further brave step is to ask what - even if it’s only a little thing – you can do to take up their cause and not turn away.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission
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