I’m proud of my friend, Makayla.
Recently, Makayla sat in a hospital waiting room for blood tests. You’ve been in those kind of waiting rooms. You meet all kinds of people – everyone from those needing routine blood work and mammograms to those anticipating an MRI that might reveal something very scary. Some people come with spouses or families; many sit alone. Nothing is private. You overhear others’ troubles whether you want to or not. For those who come by themselves, it can be the loneliest of places. So many people, but all strangers. No one nearby to confide in or to share what we face. At least we have cell phones we can use to connect with family or a friend the moment we need it.
As Makayla sat waiting, she observed a woman talking on her cell phone. The woman began to cry, telling the person on the other end that doctors had discovered a ball in her stomach and wanted it checked out right away.
Some young people overheard the conversation too. They began to laugh at the woman for crying and for using the word ball. They made jokes out of the idea of someone having balls in their stomach.
I don’t know how young the children were. Perhaps they were too young to understand what the crying woman meant and how serious a situation it might be. But their insensitivity made Makayla mad. She felt anger at those who would make fun of someone who was sick and scared. ”People can be so cruel,” she wrote on Facebook.
I love what Makayla did next. She prayed. She prayed for the woman crying into her cell phone. She saw the injustice of those who would mock the weak and she took her concern to the Lord. Then she asked Facebook land to pray for this unknown woman who was scared and who dared to cry in a public place.
Makayla has had her share of health issues in her young life. Maybe that’s why she was able to feel compassion for this stranger. She knows what it’s like to fear the unknown, to face a doctor’s diagnosis of a serious disease. And because she has found comfort through her faith, she knew the best thing to do – take the need directly to the God of all compassion who comforts us so that we can comfort others instead of laughing at their distress. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Makayla also knew that in order to live a life of faith, you have to take your Christianity outside the church building on Sunday morning and bring it into everyday life, turning life needs into prayer requests, praying in every circumstance (I Thessalonians 5:17). Even though the weeping woman was a stranger, Makayla knew Someone who did know her and who could give her the help and strength she needed.
I love that image – a head bowed in a hospital waiting room, praying for someone you don’t even know. It reminds me of how several people in our small town in Kansas would pray every time they heard the blow of the fire whistle or the scream of the ambulance siren. They didn’t have to know what was happening to stop and pray – for the victims, the fire department volunteers and the EMT’s. When I see a tense, troubled family in a restaurant, I’ve stopped my critical thoughts midstream, bowed my head, and prayed that God would relieve the stress that family faces.
Isn’t that a powerful thought? The next time you are in crisis or your life falls apart in public, someone sitting on the sidelines could be watching and silently brining your need to the God of all comfort. If life suddenly turns around for you, your path is smoothed, or you get a second wind of peace and strength, that may have come because someone was praying for you.
The literal Greek translation of the word hospitality is “love of the stranger.” I find it interesting that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin root – shelter to the needy. When we pray for someone in need whom we don’t know, it becomes hospitality in its purest form – giving to someone in need a gift of grace they cannot return.
Wouldn’t you love to give that comfort of prayer to someone else; someone who doesn’t even know you, someone you can’t judge whether or not they deserve it – because none of us do – someone who can’t say thank you to you because they don’t even know you’re sitting there praying?
That’s grace, my friend. That’s grace paid forward.
Good job, Makayla. Keep it up, girlfriend.