The stories of the two widows are familiar to us. Each is at the end of her rope. One has a last bit of oil and flour, the other gives two small coins from what little she has left. Both have little left to survive. Both are helpless. In that ancient culture, there is no work for women (except work that is dishonorable). They have no relatives left to help them, to support their life, to give them a hand up. They and orphans are the poorest of the poor. All they can do is beg. They are totally helpless.
We don’t have to be poor to be helpless. Sickness, disabled conditions, natural disasters, an aging body, a serious house problem, even something as simple as a flat tire on a busy street can put us in a state of helplessness, wondering if anyone cares about us enough to help.
It might be good to contemplate how much of life’s energy we spend protecting ourselves from the near and ever present danger of falling into helplessness. There is nothing wrong with that. Self-sufficiency is good for ourselves and society but we cannot avoid helplessness forever, even if it doesn’t occur until we are at the point of death. When it does occur, it can move us closer to God, trusting in Him alone, and in that sense it is a gift.
It may seem strange to talk about this but it is always good to remind ourselves of our daily need for God. Besides, we are also entering into that time of year when those who are helpless feel the loneliness of their condition and the despair that goes with it. After giving thanks to God for all that we have, it might be good to consider the plight of someone who is close to us—not a stranger—but someone who makes us feel uncomfortable, and do something for their helplessness.