The Whirlwind of Life

She experienced a whirlwind of emotions.

She was a widow, with a son, in the middle of a famine. Provisions were almost expired; enough was left for one last meal. She was gathering the wood for the cooking fire when Elijah entered her life.

Elijah asked the widow to bring him a drink of water and a piece of bread. She responds in 1 Kings 17:12, “As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don’t have any bread, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son that we may eat it, and die.”

Can you imagine? The widow is in a desperate situation, and she may feel hopeless. But here comes hope.

Elijah encourages her to do as he has directed, and promises the Lord will continue her provisions until the end of the famine. 1 Kings 17:6 records the widow and her son having enough to survive until the famine ended. This storm ended, but another rain cloud was on the horizon.

Some time later her son died. Amid the storm, the widow went to Elijah so he could act on behalf of God. This would have been an emotionally draining whirlwind for the widow; hard times followed by okay times only to be replaced by hard times again. Sadness giving away to happiness only to be broken down by grief. The winds of life tossed and turned the widow.

Perhaps this sounds familiar to your experience. Don’t lose the big take-away of the widow’s story.

Her faith pushed her forward.

It was the widow’s faith which compelled her to feed Elijah and go to him upon the death of her son. Her faith steadied her as the winds swirled around her.

You and I have a friend in Jesus who sticks closer than a brother. His compassion wiped the tears of the widow and held the hand of the man with leprosy. His power was victorious over death. There’s nothing in life that is a match for him.

Allow the Lord to be a part of your storm today.

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Can we help the lonely?

A touch cured a lonely soul.

Leprosy was a horrible disease. There was no cure, and the infection was easily transmitted. Individuals with leprosy were forced to live alone. As someone approached, the person was forced to shout “unclean” as a warning.

A person suffering from leprosy had to endure the physical pain of his or her flesh rotting. There was also the emotional pain of loneliness. Those with leprosy had to quarantine themselves, leaving their families and friends. The disease took its tole both physically and emotionally, and we find Jesus offering much compassion to those with leprosy.

Matthew 8 says, “Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. ‘Lord,’ the man said, ‘if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Imagine the scene. Jesus is leading a large crowd, and suddenly enters a man with leprosy. He starts speaking to Jesus as perhaps the crowd backs up a little. The man’s faith is obvious. He knows Jesus can heal him. Jesus does heal the man, but the other action Jesus takes is just as powerful.

“Jesus reached out and touched him,” records Matthew 8:3. Jesus touched him!

We do not know how long this man had endured the pain of leprosy. We do not know how many days or even years it had been since the man felt the closeness of human touch. All we know is Jesus touched him. Yes, Jesus healed his leprosy, but Jesus also healed his loneliness. The compassion offered by Jesus in this moment was stellar.

The man with leprosy was lonely, and Jesus interaction helped him. You and I may have the ability to help someone who is lonely.

When appropriate, the embrace of a hug and the holding of a hand is powerful. The sharing of a smile and a friendly greeting are equally as powerful. A wave can go a long way.

Our interactions today may help someone who is lonely without us even realizing it.

 

a crowd of people walking

10 Practical Ways to Imitate Compassion

His occupation is beggar, and he has secured a prime spot. The road he sits beside each day is heavily traveled, and it is one of the best spots to be a beggar. He hears the stories about Jesus as he sits there; the stories of Jesus healing people and performing all kinds of miracles, and he wonders if Jesus could help him.

One day the traffic is unusually heavy. At first, he thinks it will be a large collection day. All those people in town would result in much more given. It turns out it is an extraordinary day. Jesus is in town, and now is his shot.

So, Bartimaeus starts shouting for Jesus to have mercy on him. People around him tell him to shut up, but he shouts more until Jesus hears him.

Jesus stops, calls Bartimaeus, and heals his eye condition. Jesus has compassion on him.

We live in a world filled with hurt. There is much need for compassion, and the Lord is compassionate. We are encouraged to imitate his compassion, so here is the picture of what we are to imitate and practical ways we can be imitators. Here are a few more times Jesus demonstrates his compassion.

The Lord is compassionate.

Luke 7 records Jesus and his disciples entering a town. As they were approaching the gate, a dead man was being carried out. The man’s mother, a widow, was following him overwhelmed with sorrow. Luke says, “When Jesus saw her, his heart went out to her.” He was so moved by compassion it drove him to action. Jesus raised her son.

Mark 1:40-42 records a man with leprosy coming to request help from Jesus. Mark tells us Jesus was moved by the situation. Jesus became angry at the man’s situation. He was not angry with the man, but the man’s situation. He healed the man, and Mark says, “immediately, the man’s leprosy left him. Jesus was so moved by compassion that it drove him to action.

Jesus doesn’t just feel sorry for folks. His compassion drives him to action. It drives him to do something about their situation. When Jesus sees people hurting, he takes steps to help them.

So what?

We are encouraged to show compassion as Jesus shows compassion.

Luke 6:36 says, “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.”

Acting

Here are 10 practical ways you and I can show compassion.

  1. Pray for those in need.
  2. Volunteer at a food pantry.
  3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  4. Provide transportation to a neighbor in need.
  5. Offer to pick up groceries or a prescription for a neighbor who has difficulty getting out of her home.
  6. Volunteer with a relief organization to do local projects.
  7. Check on a neighbor to make sure he is doing okay during an extreme weather event.
  8. Try to have a conversation with someone who seems lonely.
  9. Send a card or encouraging note to a friend you know is struggling.
  10. Offer a bit of grace to someone.

How are you going to show compassion today?

What are some other ways we can show compassion?

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