I know a girl whose parents have recently passed away. Her only sister is disabled and lives in a nursing home and she has no other living relatives. She speaks sadly of her upcoming birthday because she is afraid that no one will remember. This girl is not living in a foster home; in fact, she is living with her husband of 18 years. But, the emptiness is still there because her mother is not.
James 1:27 says to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and we often assume that in our country, the government takes care of those needs. But what of their emotional needs? The American Heritage dictionary defines an orphan as “one that lacks support, supervision, or care”. My friend has lived in her current home for several years but has not made the kind of friends there who will support and care for her during this time of grieving. Is she the kind of “orphan” that James was talking about? I think so. We as the church are failing those around us if we are not providing a place of refuge and healing for the hurting people we encounter. The orphans may be older than we expect. Their needs may not be what we anticipated. They might need a shoulder to cry on or to be included in your family gathering. Or they might just want to have a little fun. So, please excuse me; I have a long-distance birthday party to plan.