By Cynthia Shroyer
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

The least of these our brothers

 


Devastation seems to creep into our lives at odd moments. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings came to our office via telephone, first a few dead. Then it seemed with each refreshing of our Internet browser the number grew. The final tally was incomplete by some standards, the press leaving out the shooter and his mother from the death count.

As I sit at my desk preparing this column the news includes a story of a 12-year old being declared guilty of murdering his father. He was 10 years old when he picked up a gun and shot his father in the head, ending years of all types of abuse. Devastating story — that the boy was subjected to such atrocities by his father, and that the boy felt he had no recourse but to commit murder.

Then there is the case of a police officer that didn’t want to pay child support. He solved that problem by shooting his child’s mother and placing the nearly year old baby girl in a hot car to die. Devastating, just … devastating.

Then of course, we have the storms that hit the east coast, first flooded then frozen, many lost all they owned.

I have heard plenty of sermons on the storms of life and these examples I have recounted fall in that category. Rather like gale force winds. My life is full of storms — some personal tsunamis, tornado-strength damage, thunders and rumblings of failure and error. In fact, some storms hit me this week, causing inconvenience and more than a little concern about how to escape relatively unscathed and with my finances intact.


I used to be overwhelmed in my storms. Anger, bitterness, depression followed and were sustained winds in my storms. This weekend the storm produced a different result — the fear was immediately followed by calm. Oh, I was upset. No idea of a way out, but calm. Willing to wait on God to step in and do what He does better than anyone else — take care of His child.

One thought that struck me came when I was in a store and the clerk said “Have a good day.” I immediately thought “couldn’t be worse”, which was followed by, “Oh, yes, it could be.”

I got stuck in the snow and despite my temper tantrum, God helped push us out. We could have been stuck out on the road someplace and suffered severe injury. News about my health knocked the breath right out of me. But I was comforted by family and friends who have walked this road, and they offered all the assistance they were able to.

While not trying to discount the true suffering people go through, honestly I have not, most of us have not experienced anything the magnitude of our brothers and sisters in Newtown, Conn., nor the physical loss those did in those floods and winter storms. Do we suffer? Yes. Do our storms threaten to kill us mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually? Most assuredly. But most times, it could be so much worse.


Aside from the yearly reminders of the Sandy Hook tragedy that we will get in the news, there is little the public can do. We can’t offer much in physical aid, but we need to be prepared to render aid in any way we can in all situations presented us — whether it is prayer for the families facing the loss of loved ones or sending money and supplies to those who are stricken storms like those that hit the east coast.

Our response to this, and every form of devastation we come in contact with is found in Matthew 25. Beginning in verse 31 and continuing to the end of the chapter, Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and goats. I am hoping God is already speaking to you; digging in to your heart and pushing you to action. With that in mind I am including the parable’s text. You don’t have to leave your seat to find a Bible; just keep reading, and ask yourself and your Lord “What part should I have in helping others?”

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

What will you do for the least of these our brothers?

 

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