Seeing the need
A Bible Reading: Acts 3:1-6
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer, at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."
Helen and I went to Morrisons last week and, as we went in, I was stopped by a scruffily dressed man in his 30s or 40s and asked if I had any spare cash on me. Living in South Yorkshire for nineteen years it was a regular occurrence to be stopped by someone begging for money or selling a copy of the Big Issue. Less so now that we live in the country, and maybe less so since many homeless people have been re-housed during this pandemic. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a need, as the evidence of food banks clearly shows us.
The increase in community support for the vulnerable has been one of the big positives that has come out of this pandemic. The need for money, for food or for a roof over their heads, however, are not the only needs that people have today; the effects of the pandemic reach out into many aspects of our lives. Job security is a major issue for many of working age, while loneliness during lockdown has left others feeling anxious or depressed, has put pressure on marriages and has increased the risk of domestic abuse.
As with Peter and John in the reading, what we see on the surface may not be the real need that a person has. The beggar in the story needed money in order to live, but his underlying need was for the ability to be able to walk in order to live a normal life and earn a normal income.
As we go about our daily lives, let us be aware of the different needs of the people around us. It may not be for cash or for physical healing. It may be for a phone call or for a socially-distanced visit. It may be a word of encouragement or guidance to the right support network. It could be a prayer or the hope that we have through faith in Jesus.
In many of the situations that we come across we may feel we don’t have what others need but, with Peter, we can all say ‘what I do have I give you’.
Father God, you have blessed me with so much. May your Holy Spirit open my eyes to see the need of those around me and open my heart to respond, in whatever way I can, in the name of Jesus and with compassion and wisdom.