Wow...all I can say is wow! Look how far we've come! I say we, because it is you, dear friend, with whom I have shared this journey. Each one of you. As Paul wrote to the early church in Thessalonica, asking that they encourage and edify, strengthen and build up one another, so you have done to me, and I pray that I might do the same for you (1 Thessalonians 5:11). This is the body of Christ. We were made to need one another, to depend on one another, to learn against one another. For your strength helps carry me in my weakness, and likewise, my strength might help carry you in your time of need. We lift one another's burdens and we show love.
As soon as I found out my surgery was on February 19th, just five days after the big commercial love day, I thought to myself, This is God's Valentine's gift to me. I can't think of a better gift this year than the Lord providing this surgery I have been waiting for now for 8 months! The author of Life and Love Himself, the One Who IS LOVE in His very being, is showing me a glimpse into His heart by giving me this long-awaited gift!
Yet there is more...His love has been demonstrated through His people on my behalf in such extraordinary, humbling ways...I cannot help but catch myself smiling spontaneously when I think about the ways friends, family, and even strangers have poured out kindness over me. It also compels me and confronts me with the utter realization that there are many going through trials and tribulations at this very moment who feel alone, who don't have a support system of family, church, friends. We need to be on the lookout for those people and take an active role in seeking out those who are desperate to feel the touch of compassion today. I need to keep a watchful eye, even in my travels for brain surgery, because I am sure in the next week I will encounter lonely souls, who just need a caring smile, an encouraging word, a simple affirmation of their humanity and their dignity and their worth in God's eyes.
Who lived out an example of Christ's compassion better than Mother Teresa? Here are some of her reflections, from which we can all gain wisdom and heart:
God loves the world through you and through me. Are we that love and that compassion? Christ came to be His Father's compassion. God is loving the world through you and through me and through all those who are His love and compassion in the world.
There is much suffering in the world- very much. Material suffering is suffering from hunger, suffering from homelessness, from all kinds of disease, but I still think that the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, just having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience. In these times..the whole world runs and is hurried. But there are some who fall down on the way and have no strength to go ahead. These are the ones we must care about...for each one of us is created in the image of God...
In loving one another through our works we bring an increase of grace and a growth in divine love.
Mother Theresa's words are bold, compelling, raw, and true.
So I ask you (as I ask myself) - what do you have to offer? How can you love well? What can you give to the one who is alone right now?
The Apostle Paul's words to the Roman Christians still ring true for us today (chapter 12 verses 6-15):
In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them...Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other...Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality... Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep...
These truths were not a new command in the early first century A.D. These are immortal truths, forever etched in God's Word. The wisest man who ever walked the earth recorded the same sentiment. King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble...A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
So the day of hearts and flowers and chocolates and red is almost here...For me, the day of surgery is almost here! You might be reading this and thinking, this all sounds good, but I'm the one feeling alone right now. I'm the one who needs picking up. If that is the case for you right now, then this is my fervent prayer for you (Ephesians 3:14-21):
When I think of the greatness of this great plan I fall on my knees before God the Father (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name), and I pray that out of the glorious richness of His resources He will enable you to know the strength of the Spirit's inner reinforcement- that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ- and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. May you be filled through all your being with God Himself! Now to Him who by His power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine- to Him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, Amen!
May the richness and fullness of Christ penetrate your heart this weekend. May you know the One who loves you immeasurably. And may you, even in your pain, your loneliness, or your trial, find someone else to reach out to with that incredible, immortal love.