A guy I play hockey with recently told me about the “blood sisters” he sees regularly. Jim described them as two of the nicest people he has ever met, even though they work with blood. He first encountered these ladies after his cancer diagnosis a few years ago. He endured chemotherapy, had been declared cancer-free, and is in an observation pattern every few months. Through the whole ordeal, he said these nurses had become his friends, even though they stuck needles in him and drew blood from his veins for review and testing.
He told me the two nurses who tended to be on duty when he went through cancer treatments were named Susan and Penny. They greeted him with a smile, tender care, laughter, and an encouraging tone. For people like Jim who have received devastating medical news and/or are reeling from the effects of harsh chemo treatments, these nurses provide a sunny, cheerful, and comforting presence to those they serve…not to mention their professional, medical expertise.
But put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Day after day they encounter patients who can be angry, impatient, unhappy, stunned, sad, sullen, or even downright miserable. People facing difficult, life-threatening illnesses are not always quick to look at their situation in positive terms. It would be so easy for nurses to take on the characteristics of the people they poke with needles, wouldn’t it? Instead, they lift the spirits of their patients day after day, offering hope, treatment and comfort, even as they show that they indeed do care for them.
I have visited students in campus medical facilities being treated for all sorts of illnesses. I am also aware of the pressures many young people face today. Students are looking for smiling faces. They are looking for encouragement. They are trying to fit in. They ache to feel accepted for who they are. We have a choice – either we can imitate the care of God (and the nurses that Jim came to appreciate) or copy the uncaring tendencies of mankind.
Read Isaiah 40:26-31.
God communicated His devotion and love to His people in creation, in spite of the Fall, through nature, through the nation of Israel and its prophets, and ultimately through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son Jesus. One of His prophets named Isaiah wrote to ancient Israel and told them to look at the stars in the sky. He said it was by God’s great power that they were placed and sustained (40:26), not the idea that inanimate, impersonal gods (i.e., idols) had something to do with them (see 40:18-20).
Isaiah further declared to Israel that God is real, powerful, loving, caring, and encouraging to them. Even though the Hebrews were often led astray by false gods, Isaiah reminded these weary and distracted people that they could look to God Himself to find comfort and hope (v 28-31).
What sort of care do you offer others on campus? What does your face and smile tell hurting people around you? How does God’s compassion make you more sensitive and caring to those you know that are often overwhelmed, overstressed, over-connected, and broken?
Live communally. Allow your smile, kind words, generosity, concern, and good deeds to lift others up this week. By doing so, you are reflecting the loving character and activity of God Himself. Scripture teaches us to care for others because God cares for us.
Love is a verb,