There’s an important and easily missed form of love that’s manifested in the small matters. For example, helping a person in need, preferring them over ourselves, showing sympathy when someone is stressed or worried, offering a prayer, or being a listening and sympathetic ear.
My prayer is that in all the busyness of life, in the abundance of urgent needs and priorities, we don’t lose sight of how important love is—both in the big picture and in our daily choices and priorities. Sometimes we forget that all our accomplishments are nothing without love.
Have you ever had a bad day just because you crossed paths with someone who was in a foul mood? Maybe it was someone on the bus or another customer in a store—someone who you normally wouldn’t have even noticed—but that one grumpy or inconsiderate person cast a pall on your whole day.
Life can be so incredibly busy, and that can hinder our spiritual lives. It can be a struggle to find the time to commune with God, to spend time in His presence and in His Word. It’s as if there is a strong gravitational force that keeps us tethered to the burdens of daily life, making it increasingly difficult to stop and enter His presence, where we could find the spiritual strength and stamina to gracefully handle the burdens of life.
For the last few years, I’ve volunteered in a project teaching underprivileged youngsters. I was brought up in a typical Indian upper-middle-class family, and for most of my life, I’ve lived in an affluent neighborhood of the city where I was raised and have enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. So it was bit of a culture shock to set foot in the slums and experience life on a totally different level.
Smiles are powerful. You’ve probably met a few gifted people, like I have, who radiate warmth and friendliness all the time. They smile so much that just being around them charges your spiritual battery. Babies are experts in this as well. Without saying a word, they lighten your day with their smiles.
I stirred at the now-familiar sound of a baby crying plaintively. Behind the partitioning curtain, I could hear his mother’s despondent, weary voice trying to soothe him. I was fifteen, and I was in the children’s ward of the hospital after having undergone a tonsillectomy the day before. Contrary to expectations, there had been some complications, and now the pain in my throat and ears made it impossible for me to sleep deeply. I pressed the ice pack more tightly to my throat and face while I watched this exhausted, careworn mother pacing the narrow aisle as she rocked her tiny, weeping son.
I was reading the familiar story of the Good Samaritan1 from a well-illustrated cartoon Bible to a group of eight- to nine-year-old Sunday school students. It ended with the question Jesus asked: “‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”2
God alone is aware of the vast quantity of heroic deeds taking place each day. If plaques were given for each, there wouldn’t be enough space on all the walls in the world! Perhaps this was on my husband Michael’s mind when he wrote this song in appreciation of the many unsung heroes.
Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you—not because they are nice, but because you are.
Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)