When I was involved in Young Life back in high school and college, we would perform random acts of kindness when we were on our way out to camp or ski trips. We might clean up our tables for the waiter or waitress or pick up trash or give extravagant compliments or cheer for people. You know, just outrageous things that would bring a smile to a complete stranger. It was so much fun to see the reactions on people’s faces!
Last year at Christmas time, I really wanted to do a random act of kindness. So I brainstormed with my friends AJ, Debbie and Jo and we came up with the idea of walking around downtown Newburgh with coffee and donuts. Jo owns a local coffee shop, so she supplied the coffee and we bought the donuts. AJ also thought it would be funny if I dressed up in a Chewbacca costume as I walked around town, so I did. (I love a challenge!) I invited my daughter Leah to join us and away we went! It was so much fun going around town giving out coffee and donuts. The reactions were priceless.
Everyone can show kindness in smaller ways. You can compliment others. You could give up your seat for someone who needs it more than you do. You can open the door for someone who is struggling. You can say, “Thank you” or “Have a nice day!” or say something else that would brighten someone’s day. The point is, the world seems to be a better place when people show each other kindness.
God has also been reminding me lately that He shows me kindness in many different ways. One of the ways He shows me kindness is giving me His comfort. When I think of the word comfort, my mind goes to someone wrapping their arms around me and telling me everything is going to be ok. One of the actual definitions of comfort is “the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.” Hugs seem to be a good way to show someone you care.
When I was growing up, hugs weren’t a part of my culture — performance was. So, I was very deficient in knowing what it felt like to be consoled by physical touch. Because my environment was so performance oriented, I really struggled with believing that God wanted to comfort me. That concept was completely foreign to me because I was rarely consoled as a child. I thought I was on my own. So as the years went by, I became very self-reliant emotionally. I didn’t know that God wanted to help me with my burdens. I was oblivious to that fact. I thought I had to be a good soldier and suck it up and deal with everything all on my own.
I am much better now, but I still struggle at times to get my brain to understand that my God is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3 He is present in my suffering, so I don’t have to “handle” it on my own. I still forget that point because I was conditioned to think I was on my own for so many years. But, I have a Heavenly Father who is compassionate and He actually wants to give me comfort.
One of the reasons why I struggled for so long was because one of my Dad’s favorite sayings was, “Pain doesn’t hurt.” So, I denied and hid my pain because it wasn’t supposed to hurt. (No wonder I was screwed up!) NEWS FLASH—PAIN DOES HURT! I shoved years and years of pain inside me because I thought I had to.
Kelly Minter explains what the greek word for compassion means. “The Greek word is oiktirmos and is used only five times in the New Testament. It means ”Bowels in which compassion resides, a heart of compassion, emotions, longings, manifestations of pity” or the inward parts. When we look at the definition of this word, we get a strong sense of feeling. According to Scripture, I want you to hear today that the Lord feels for you.”
THE LORD FEELS FOR US! Let that soak in for a minute. That aspect of God is so important for us to know. If I would have known that long ago, it would have saved me feeling like I had to handle everything on my own. (And a lot of money on counseling!) I didn’t realize that I had God to turn to for comfort until I was in my forties! That might sound crazy to you, but it’s true. My brain couldn’t see that side of God because I was so screwed up!
When there is suffering, He is there to comfort us. You will not have one without the other because suffering and comfort go hand in hand. And—He not only comforts me—but He uses my suffering so I can comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:4 So, I have been able to relate to all kinds of different things because of my suffering. God has used my suffering in other people’s lives and I find great joy in that fact. I want God to use my suffering to help others and for His glory!
So—if you are suffering—let me tell you that God will comfort you—if you let Him. The reason why I say, “If you let Him,” is the fact that it is a two way street. There have been times when I have been in so much pain or been so angry or inconsolable that I didn’t want to be comforted. I wasn’t able to receive comfort from God or anyone else for that matter. Pain and anger have a way of messing with our minds because they misconstrue our thinking. That’s why we need to be very careful when we are suffering to focus on truth and keep our hearts open to God’s comfort. We need to allow Him to console us.
Kelly Minter states, “When we traverse through difficulty, it’s often hard to see outside of our pain. But we find great purpose in our suffering when we realize our experiences will serve as unique comforts to others going through similar trials.” That means that my pain and your pain has purpose. There is purpose in our suffering!
I don’t know about you, but that truth makes my suffering worthwhile. All my pain, abuse, anxiety, depression and struggles have a purpose in my life and also enable me to help others. I am going to be honest and say that I don’t like suffering. I don’t like to be in pain. I don’t like it at all! But—when I look back at all that has happened—I am able to see what God has done for me and in me. He has taught me so much and changed me. I wouldn’t be who I am without the suffering. (I know. I wish there was an easier way!)
Everywhere I look today, I see suffering. No one is exempt from it. But, I can’t think of a better person to turn to than my Lord and Savior. He is always there to give me what I need. He truly is the God of all comfort and the Father of compassion. I can’t live my life without Him and I really don’t want to handle things on my own any more. It’s just too hard to be self-reliant—and it’s exhausting!
So, let’s give each other hugs! Let’s go the extra mile and say something nice to someone. Pay things forward. Do random acts of kindness. Go out there and look for ways to make someone’s day. Pray for one another. You never know what kind of impact your kindness will have on someone. Kindness gets me more than almost anything else does. I actually cry when I witness it. (I just can’t help myself!) I’m the one who cries when people win on game shows. I’m also the one who cries during the Hallmark commercials. I just want everyone to be nice to each other for goodness sakes! (RANT OVER!)
I always think of this saying when it comes to being kind. “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” That’s what my Momma taught me. Until next time friends…..
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”