“She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” — Proverbs 31:20
If you have ever been down to the point of not being able to get back up by yourself, you understand the value of a helping hand. Historically, when the first American pioneers were venturing west to make new lives for themselves, women had to be especially strong and industrious. When times were tough, they relied upon the support of neighbors and friends to get them through. It was a system of “Give when you are able, and accept help when you need it.” Goods and services were traded with value equaling or exceeding currency—women would sell or trade their canned or farmed produce for what they needed in return. They would sew new clothing, mend tears in old clothing, or do others’ laundry, for a fee.
Women worked hard to provide for their families. But when a neighbor was down with an injury, sickness, or new baby, she would take what goods were needed and give her time to visit, helping to fill in the gaps with no expectation of payment for her services. It was a time when it was essential to work in order to eat and survive—yet neighbors would stop to take care of each other. Having a helping hand could literally mean the difference between life and death.
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well….” — James 2:8
In our culture, people have forgotten what it is like to go without something when they can’t afford it. They have forgotten how it feels to struggle for what they need. In being blessed, our country has unwittingly become complacent in reaching out to others who need assistance in some way. Help from a neighbor is no longer necessary for survival. People rely on credit cards, loans, and government programs to get them through the hard times. This is not always a bad thing, but because of how easy it is to find help for ourselves, we tend to stay focused on our own problems, lives, and families, and rarely have time to consider the struggles of others. Is this what God intended?
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” — James 1:27
Even in our time, we have those who struggle. We have young ladies who have babies and need rest or encouragement; a visit to help with dishes, do a load of laundry, or make a meal would be just the thing to revitalize a young woman who feels like she is burdened. We have “widows in their distress” who sit at home anxiously awaiting caring human contact.; a visit, phone call, or card to say that we are thinking of them and praying for their well-being could go a long way in helping to ease crushing loneliness. Getting to know what they need may even open doors to helping them in other ways.
We have spiritual orphans whom we know could use something new once in a while; showing them that we care about their future and giving them a leg up could make a huge difference in the rest of their lives. We have those who are injured or sick and unable to get around like a healthier person might; assistance with a grocery store trip or a helping hand around the house would be gladly welcomed. If, as Christian ladies, we are to show God the Father and Jesus Christ how much we love Them, we must be willing to put our faith into action and work to help those who we know need it.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” — James 2:14-16
Having been the recipient of these blessings during a time of need, I can say how incredibly humbling it is to be taken care of, and how grateful I was for those ladies who took the time to care. And having been able to help someone else, I can testify to the many blessings God has returned for those labors. We all need help once in a while, especially when we are down and can’t see a way back up. If we are willing to help others in their time of need, God will make sure that when it is our turn, we are taken care of more than we could ever hope to be.
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” — Luke 6:38