They often stand on busy street corners or next to fast food restaurants and even the entrance of major highways. These are the visible humankind in need, their faces etched with poverty and desperation. They may approach you and ask for assistance or carry signs describing their financial situation and acute physical needs, waiting hours for the benevolent act of a stranger. It is outwardly clear these people are lacking in physical essentials and find it necessary to rely on the helping hand of others. We call them destitute, down-and-out, needy, or beggars. Helping them can be quick and painless by simply taking a couple of minutes to purchase them food, place a few dollars in their hand, or fill their car with gas then head back to our normal daily routine.
There is another group of people desperately in need but not as obvious as the down-and-out. They may not be standing in public places begging or carrying signs asking for help but they are among us and you see them everyday at work, the grocery store, the bank, sitting next to you at church or in a restaurant. They easily go unnoticed which is why their numbers are so great. The faces of these individuals may hold a smile but their hearts ache for physical, mental, or emotional attention from anyone who can help lift the burdens they are carrying. I call them the “silent needy”. They are inwardly begging for love and attention and are in need of encouragement and acceptance. All seek for that little spark of hope and belief to carry them through their journey. Unfortunately, they easily slip through the infinite cracks of social circles and many of us are oblivious to their plight. Helping these needy individuals is not quick or painless as it takes time and effort not only to find them but to recognize their specific needs and be able to lighten their burdens.
Interestingly enough it may not be until we are one of the silent needy that we become acutely aware of their existence. Only after experiencing the deprivation of certain physical or emotional needs and its residual pain and loneliness can we truly empathize with them. We begin to look at others differently seeing beyond their outer appearance and facial expressions. Their eyes speak volumes and as we converse with them we notice those subtle hints indicating their hearts are desperately pleading for someone to come to their aid.
Service in the dictionary is described as a contribution to the welfare of others. Reaching out to the silent needy with honest intent requires a higher level of service called charity. Charity is a pure love for humanity that is demonstrated through an individual’s benevolent goodwill and sincere generosity towards the needy and suffering.
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Albert Schweitzer