You wouldn’t think it would make a difference.
To Lilly Gillon it may have made a life and death difference.
Lilly is a British two year – old who suffers from a rare form of cancer. When she received life-saving medical help at a hospital in Oklahoma City, Lilly’s parents were impressed with the warm hospitality of the people in the Sooner State. Lilly’s spirits seemed good. When she returned to England, however, she didn’t appear quite so happy.
Back in Oklahoma for a vacation with his little girl, Lilly’s dad noticed a marked improvement in her responsiveness. The more the folksy Oklahomans made over her, the more cheerful Lilly became. “They were just so nice,” Graham Gillon remarked. In fact, the people in Oklahoma were so nice – so kind and friendly toward the whole Gillon family – that the Gillons are seriously considering moving there in order to speed Lilly’s recovery.
Is there a connection between kindness and healing?
The Bible tells us that “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” [Proverbs 17:22, NLT]. While “a merry heart” is good for our health, sadness “drieth the bones” (KJV).
What about somebody else’s cheerfulness? What about another person’s strength? Can our kindness make a difference? Does it impact others?
Perhaps more than we might think.
We influence people’s dispositions – their attitudes, their spirits, even their health – in so many subtle ways. A warm smile, a firm handshake, a hug or a tender word of thanks or encouragement can make all the difference in how somebody else gets through her day.
A simple and sincere compliment can offer hope in ways you may never realize. In our preoccupied and hectic lives we can sometimes overlook this.
We seldom know what’s inside another person’s heart or mind. The burdens people carry – their worries and concerns; their loneliness or heartache – are often known but to them and to God. This is especially true of the many strangers we briefly encounter along life’s busy pathway.
“All the lonely people,” the Beatles sang, “where do they all come from?”
There’s a whole lot of hurt in this world that you and I don’t know about.
Broken spirits are mended by cheerful hearts. When we dispense kindness – especially to a stranger – we share some good medicine. And we show the love of Christ better than any sermon ever could.
God instructed the Israelites to show kindness to foreigners: “But the stranger who lives among you shall be unto you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself.” God then reminded his people that “you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” [Leviticus 19: 34, NKJV].
When someone’s far from home, and all that is familiar, the kindness of a stranger means a lot. The writer of Hebrews tells us: “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.” [Hebrews 13:2, NLT].
“Without realizing it”. There’s the key – the part we too easily forget.
Francis Bacon observed: “If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins them.”
It costs us little to be kind – it is an inexpensive medicine. “If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers,” Jesus said, “you will surely be rewarded.” [Matthew 10:42, NLT].
Of course, reward was not on the minds of the friendly people in Oklahoma when they reached out to precious Lilly Gillon and “loved on her”. Their motive was not to gain but to give. Lilly and her family will not remember many of the folks who showed their kindness to them while they were strangers in a foreign land. Their paths may never again cross this side of eternity. But every word of cheer and encouragement, every smile and every act of kindness was noticed – and it was recorded by the angels in glory. Perhaps the people of Oklahoma entertained one of those angels without realizing it.
The poet Edwin Markham wrote:
“There is a destiny which makes us brothers; none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, that’s worth remembering – and worth practicing.
Carry kindness with you every day. As God opens an opportunity, share some with others. It may not seem like much but it may make someone else feel a whole lot better.
Kindness is good medicine.
May God bless you and your family.