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Reaching Out to Others

Fifteen-year-old Douglas had been feeling sick for several days. His temperature fluctuated between 103 and 105 degrees, and he was suffering from severe flu-like symptoms. Finally, his mother took him to the hospital, and there he was diagnosed as having leukemia. After running a battery of tests, the doctors told Douglas in frank terms that for the next three years, he would have to undergo chemotherapy—and they didn’t sugarcoat the side effects. Upon learning what was ahead of him, Douglas went into a deep depression and no one seemed to be able to break through it.

His aunt called a floral shop to send Douglas an arrangement of flowers, telling the clerk that it was for her teenage nephew who had leukemia. When the flowers arrived at the hospital, Douglas read the card from his aunt. Then he saw a second card. It said: “Douglas, I work at the florist shop and I took your aunt’s order. I just wanted you to know that I had leukemia when I was seven years old. I’m twenty-two years old now and I’m doing fine. Hang in there—you can make it! Sincerely, Laura.” Douglas’ face lit up, and from that moment on, the depression lifted.

Douglas was in a hospital filled with millions of dollars of the most sophisticated medical equipment. He was being treated by expert doctors and nurses whose medical training no doubt totaled in the hundreds of years. Yet, it was a salesclerk in a flower shop, a woman making $170 a week, who gave Douglas hope and the will to carry on.

Events that cause emotional pain are a universal reality; we are not exempt simply because we serve Christ. However, if we allow God to teach us and help us though our suffering, then good can and will come from it.

Years ago, when I was suffering from a serious illness, someone sent me this poem:
How can we ever hope to heal
The wounds of others we do not feel?
If our eyes are dry and we never weep,
How can we know when the hurt is deep?
For it’s only in suffering we recognize
The sorrow that lies in another’s eyes.

As Christians, we should actively minister to the grief of others. The Bible tells us to weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15) and to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Today, do you know of someone who could use a word of encouragement? Think back to times when God has comforted your heart, and then step forward to help someone else!