A.T. is a 7th grader. He was born in South Africa. He enjoys reading and studying math in school.
K.B. is in her 70s. She was born in northern Indiana. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, traveling, and baking.
A.T. and K.B. don’t appear to have a lot in common. But they share at least one thing. They are both referred to in James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)
You see, A.T. is an orphan and K.B. is a widow.
Why would James combine orphans and widows together like this? I’ve studied and reflected on this verse and some related ones recently (Deu. 10:18, Isa. 1:17, and Jer. 7:5-7). Orphans and widows certainly aren’t the only ones in affliction. Why are followers of Christ told to visit them specifically?
Some interpret this passage by explaining that orphans and widows are simply examples of anyone that is vulnerable and in trouble. Christians certainly can put the word of God that they hear into practice by showing mercy to anyone that is in need that comes across their path (Luke 10:37).
However, there seems to be an extra level of effort that is worth making for widows and orphans. We’re supposed to make a visit to the orphan and the widow, not just help them out if they happen to be along the road we’re already traveling. But why?
I believe it is because God has revealed himself as the one that made a special effort to visit those most in need. Jesus made a special visit to come for those that were most vulnerable. The most vulnerable are us, sinners actively in rebellion against him. He emptied himself. He humbled himself to the most humiliating of deaths (Phil. 2:7-8).
Jesus did that so we might fully be in relationship with God as our father. When were without a heavenly father and passing our days as spiritual orphans, God adopted us into his family as beloved children.
Jesus came to be our groom. He will care for and protect us. He did it when we were a whoring bride (Ex. 34:15). We weren’t selected to be his bride because we were so beautiful. He made the effort to love the unlovable when we most needed him.
Privacy laws prevent me from sharing much more about A.T. But I can share a bit more about, K.B. She’s my mother, Karen. I don’t write this post so that you’ll make special visits to care for her. As her son, myself and my family have a special privilege to care for her (1 Tim. 5:3-8). I write this post to share an example of how much higher God’s ways are than our ways (Isa. 55:9).
Mom, a widow, is making a visit to see many orphans for three months later this year at Bethesda Children’s Village. She’ll be tutoring A.T. and his classmates in math and other subjects. She’ll also just generally get to be grandma to children without regular grandparent figures in their lives.
I wouldn’t have ever thought that God would use a widow from Indiana to care for orphans in South Africa. But that seems to be what he is doing.
You might not be called to go tutor at Bethesda for three months. But I challenge you to read the many scriptural commands to care for the fatherless and find some way in which you can.
Maybe the first step could be to learn a little more about the ministry of Bethesda as a widow makes her visit to some orphans in their affliction. You can do that at their website.