I shared in my last post how I was given a cup of cold water by three ladies at our church. The love and concern these ladies shared with me when I was hurting refreshed and encouraged me, and gave me the desire to get up and go on.
Having been refreshed and renewed, I have been thinking of ways that I can give a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul even while carrying out my care giving role. Even with the limitations of availability, I think there are ways we can be an encouragement and blessing to others, even if our actions seem, well, insignificant to us. Here are some of the thoughts I have had lately:
1. My Mom taught me a long time ago that when the Lord brings someone to mind, take a moment and pray for that person. We may not know what their need is but the Lord certainly does! Our prayers to the Lord on someone's behalf mean more than we will ever know this side of Heaven. Praying for someone also tenders our heart for that person.
2. When you know someone is having a hard time - even if you don't know what the situation is (and we don't really need to know the details, it's enough that the Lord knows) - pray for them and send them a note. A word of encouragement doesn't have to be a long letter or on expensive paper, it just needs to be a word of sincere concern and that you are praying for them. Cards are great because they already care a small poem or thought that we can add our "amen" to!
3. A phone call can be so uplifting! Even an encouraging message left on the answering machine can help someone know that they are not alone in their struggle and storm.
4. If you know the lady well enough to go to her and give her a hug, do it! I'm a toucher! But I also know that not everyone wants to be touched or hugged by someone they aren't close to. But if you know the lady well enough to know the hug is OK, give her a gentle hug and a sincere word of encouragement. The physical touch conveys a different type of concern, it's more personal. A note here: we don't encourage hugging between men and women that are not related to each other - that can carry the wrong intention and no one wants to start a gossip session, please!
5. If you are in a position to go visit the person that is having a difficult time, do it. It doesn't have to be a long visit; as in the case of my Mother, she tires very easily and usually does better with short visits rather than a 2 or 3 hour one. Try to be sensitive to the person's situation and respond appropriately.
6. And if you can, take a pot of home made soup, or even a small bag of fruit, to that hurting person. My Mother has a friend that always brings her small bottles of fruit juice when she comes to visit. The small bottles are the perfect size for Mom and the gesture is precious. Sharing a meal with someone is also very personal and giving.
7. In the case of care givers, perhaps your situation is such that you can offer to run an errand for the care giver. If the loved one that is being cared for is completely home confined, the care giver may have difficulty getting away from the home to take care of needed things. Perhaps you could call first and ask the care giver if you can pick up something from the grocery store and bring it by - that could be a priceless answer to prayer!
8. And the bigger help is if you can sit with the loved one while the care giver runs their own errands. Not everyone is as blessed as I am to have someone there to fill in for them when they need to take care of necessary duties outside the home.
Everyone's situation is different, everyone's needs vary even from day to day in a care giving situation. And sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone, that there is someone that cares, whether it's a care giving situation or handling a personal crisis.
As our Pastor tells us often, "Be kind to everyone because everyone is having a hard time." As the Lord helps us to be sensitive to His leading, He will give us the opportunity to share a cup of cold water with another hurting soul. Perhaps the Lord has given you other ways to share a cup of cold water. If so, please share them with us!
Stay on your knees, and keep looking up!