Monday, September 2, 2013

For the Love of the Needy

“The firstborn of the poor will feed,

And the needy will lie down in safety . . .”

Isaiah 14:30a

It was a dismal day to begin with and the worn pet supply store looked unpromising. She was after bunny treats and Wal-Mart didn’t have them in stock, so we took a different turn in our travels and hoped for the best.

Lish and I waited in the car, and a few minutes later, my Mom emerged from the grimy building. The expression on her face said it all.

“What happened?" we asked and she told us about a white baby rabbit, alone in a cage, huddling in the corner, its entire ear chewed off, cowering. 

My Mom asked the girl who worked there, “What’s wrong with his ear?” and she replied sagely, in a hushed voice, “Oh don’t worry about him; he’s for feed.” 

So my sister and I ventured in, hearts pricked. We walked into the store, lights dim, stale music blaring. Over to the rabbit cages, packed on top of one another, and we saw him. Afraid, rejected, with mangy white fur and minus one ear. We said, “We’ll take him, that one,” and they tried to veer us away, but we were determined. We bought him, all 16 dollars of him.

The man at the desk gave us a discount, “because of his ear,” a discounted life handed to us in an old cardboard box and we hurried out of the pet store into the fresh air and the open wide sky that the One who values the sparrow made for His pleasure. 

And we take him home and we feed him and we give him a clean, fresh place to sleep, and we love him, because he’s one of God’s creatures. 

We take what was rejected, cast aside, because there is something in the redeemed heart that should ache for the low thing, for the thing that is despised, rejected, thrust out in a cardboard box, intended as food for a snake. 

And there is something craven about the person who doesn’t care, something hard and crusty, something amiss. 

I was never an “animal person” until I became saved and I still don’t innately feel a passion toward my four-footed friends. I remember when my understanding was opened and I knew the Holy Spirit stirring inside my heart. It began with our growing-old dog, Bonnie. I felt differently towards her, felt compassion towards her and began to pay attention to her, brush her, and talk to her more than I had in the past. The Lord continued to work in my heart and to give me a love for His creatures around me. He continues to teach me this grace, and I pray that my heart will continue to grow in sensitivity and genuine compassion. 

The prophet Nathan tells a story about the man who callously slaughtered and cooked another man’s pet lamb. Heavy judgement hovered over that man, and even though the analogy is to be drawn between David, Bathsheba, and Uriah, there is a principle that cannot be ignored. Callousness/cruelty of heart, whether toward a creature or toward a human being invokes judgement.  The Lord would have us show mercy in our dealings with other men as well as with His animal creation, as the situation and as conscience dictate. 

I am not speaking of animal-worship, puppy-princess, PETA nonsense here. I am talking about decency and compassion and caring for the Lord’s creatures in a way that honors Him—whether it be through humane slaughter for food, or through careful protection and preservation as a tangible example of His kindness and mercy towards that which is weak.  

Mephibosheth sat at the King’s table. Crippled, “discounted” Mephibosheth, and David took him in.  

Jesus was a “Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him . . .” (Isaiah 53:3) Despised and rejected, nothing in His appearance that was desireable. And yet, He was the Chosen One, the God-Man, anointed with oil flowing down His beard--the compassionate, crushed, humble Servant who can have compassion on the wounded and the rejected because He also was and can sympathize with us in our weaknesses. 

Time and time again in the Word of God, it is the lowly, the outcast that the Lord takes pity upon. Not the ones who are beautiful and sleek and rich and well-clothed and well-fed. The outcasts, the poor, the ones who know their need. 

The funny thing is, that these are usually the ones who are the most grateful for this outpouring of mercy. Of all the animals that we’ve had (and we’ve had a lot) it is the ones who have been the most abused who appreciate being loved and taken care of the most. 

And that is how it is with us and with God. The one who has been forgiven much loves much. The one who has been maimed and discounted and chewed up by sin and then is drawn by the Father, is the one who stays near to Him in gratitude and love. 

He is gracious, to the sparrow, to the poor bunny huddled in a cage, to us. May we be gracious to the suffering too and show the love and mercy of Christ to the least of these.   

No comments:

Post a Comment