A few years ago, I read about a family that suffered a loss. The mother’s father had died and they were rushing around packing and getting the family ready to travel several hundred miles for the funeral. In the middle of their preparations, an old guy from their church that they didn’t know very well showed up at their door.
Not only didn’t they know him, they thought he was a bit odd and weren’t sure about him. When he arrived on their doorstep, the mom answer and wondered what in the world he was doing there.
She asked him what she could do for him. He told her that he was there to shine their shoes. He had his shoe-shine kit and wanted to make their shoes look the best they can for such an important and solemn occasion.
He saw a need to help and share compassion and he offered to do the only thing that he could and so while they rushed to get ready to do, he polished the shoes they would wear at the funeral and made an impact on this family. They were grateful and this simple act of kindness eased their grief and suffering. He didn’t say a thing, he just served a need.
It is interesting, God seems to have gifted me with the ability to show his compassion to people who are hurting. I spend a lot of time in hospitals, nursing homes, with grieving families, and other similar situations. I have been there when people have breathed their last, when the family learns of their death, through surgeries, when they learned they had a debilitating illness. I have preached a lot of funerals. A good part of them were the result of tragic events. Automobile accidents, murder victims, and I can’t remember all the types of tragic events I have done funerals for.
Last week, our oldest member died of cancer. She was 90 years old. The last few weeks were difficult on her and her family. But difficulty has been multiplied. Her 32-year-old grandson was killed in an auto accident this morning.
I know that the most important thing is to be there and be with them. Let them vent, let them cry, and pray with them. But like every other time, what in the world am I supposed to say? It’s hard to accept that God is loving and caring at moments like these. It’s difficult to express in words anyway, that there is comfort available to them.
I know of only one thing that I can do that is true, effective, and correct. Point them to Jesus. God cares for them. God has help and hope for them. But grief can blind hearts and minds to God’s care and compassion. I guess that’s why he sends people like me to share his love and mercy.
I get to serve an incredible God. He will get them through, regardless of my inadequacy.