Tag Archives: compassion

Love One Another (Guest Post)

Photo credit: Pixabay

Love One Another

by Steph Beth Nickel

A simple walk through Walmart. That’s when it hit her. I don’t think I can do this mask thing for the long haul.

Deep breath. You’ll be okay.

Thankfully, with God’s help, she talked herself off the ledge. But it was scary. It was the first time she could, in a small way, empathize with those who deal with full-fledged panic attacks.

This isn’t a post about the benefits and drawbacks of wearing masks. It’s about something far more important. It’s about love and respect.

Years ago, our former pastor said we can’t know for sure what motivates a person to speak and act the way they do. We may have our suspicions, but two people can do exactly the same thing for entirely different reasons.

It breaks my heart to read how people are attacking one another on social media. Like many people, I find conflict upsetting—even when I’m not directly involved.

While some conflict is inevitable, much is avoidable—especially when it stems from the assumption that we know why people are choosing to respond to COVID-19 in the way they are.

This situation isn’t going away anytime soon—barring divine intervention. How can we love one another well?

Here are nine ideas:

  1. Draw close to the Lord. We can only love others well if His love becomes a wellspring in us, bubbling up and overflowing to those around us.
  2. Be kind to yourself. It’s especially important these days to take care of ourselves. It’s not selfish; it’s vital.
  3. Admit it when you’re struggling in one way or another. We all need at least one confidante in our life who will actively listen as we pour out our heart, someone who won’t simply spout platitudes and expect us to “get over it.”
  4. Become a good listener. Stephen Covey said, “Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” I prefer the simpler version: listen to learn, not to respond.
  5. Begin a Gratitude Journal. While the situation can be overwhelming, when we deliberately examine our life for things to be grateful for, it changes our attitude—and that splashes over onto the people around us.
  6. Plan fun activities. Instead of grieving what we can’t do—at least for prolonged periods—it’s important to make the best of the situation. We are created for community. It’s important to enjoy time with family and friends, whether in person or online.
  7. Look for an opportunity to reach out to someone who is lonely. Even pre-COVID it was easy to neglect those who are isolated and on their own. It’s even harder for them these days. While we can’t necessarily go for a visit, we can write them a letter or give them a call. A simple act can brighten someone’s day more than we realize.
  8. Fellowship with other believers. The Lord used the analogy of a body for good reason. We truly need one another. Whether we get together in person or learn to use Zoom, it’s crucial to our spiritual wellbeing to spend time with other Christians. While watching a church service online can be beneficial, it isn’t the same as interacting with one another.
  9. Pray for one another. We see throughout the Scriptures that prayer is a command and an invitation. One of the most incredible things someone can do for us is pray. Why not let someone know today that you are praying for them—and don’t forget to do just that.

This list could be much longer, but these ideas provide a good jumping off point.

I’d love to hear how you are loving others in the midst of these challenging times.

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Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Lord, I Want to See

If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.
Proverbs 29:18, MSG*

One thing I brought home from Write Canada this year was the challenge to see. As I shared recently (Bubbles in Bratislava), that message needed reinforcing within a few short weeks.

We see so much with our natural eyes, and we “see” our perspectives and interpretations, and all of this gets in the way of our discerning what God is doing—and what God sees.

In ourselves: “Search me, oh God, and know my heart…” (Ps. 139:23a, NIV) is a key prayer. God already knows us. Do we know ourselves? I love it that we can ask Him this in trust. He won’t overwhelm us by showing us everything He wants to fix, but He’ll let us see what He wants to work on now. And it’s never to diminish us, but always as an invitation to let Him work.

In others: It’s so easy to justify why we do the things we do, yet to make assumptions about the motivations of others—especially when they irritate us. Unless we take time to know them, we have no idea what’s happening under the surface of their lives.

In the world: We hear bits and pieces, often slanted by the media or by individual opinion. Again, even if we get the unbiased truth it’s still surface information. God knows the details, and He knows His plans.

Seeing what God is doing helps us to pray. It also helps us live confidently in Him despite the circumstances. It’s true: when we attend to what He reveals—when we see, hear, pay attention and adjust our actions accordingly—we are most blessed. Because then we’re closest to His heart.

In the words of a blind man who met Jesus, “Lord, I want to see.” (Luke 18:41, MSG) And when we can’t see, God help us to trust Him in the dark.

God our great Shepherd, our King and Sustainer, open our eyes to the many ways You touch our lives. Forgive us when we get discouraged by what we see in the natural, and help us see what You see and what You’re doing. Forgive us also for not looking past the surface of the people we meet and the events we watch. Your Spirit is always in us. Give us Your vision, so we can better serve and reflect You in our lives.

Our song this week is Brandon Heath’s “Give Me Your Eyes.”

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Hungry for God

…your faith in God has become known everywhere…. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:8b, 9b, 10, NIV*

Last week I noticed that the Thessalonians received the gospel with power, the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:5) In verse six, Paul adds more to this: “you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”

Their work, endurance, love and hope after turning to God have become known not just locally in Macedonia and Achaia but “everywhere”. When God gets a hold of people, news travels.

The section of the story quoted in the opening made me stop and think today. These are obviously people who had been hungry for God. They hadn’t known who He is or how to find Him, and their idol worship was all the culture offered. If they’d been satisfied with it, they wouldn’t have jumped ship.

God knew the people were searching for Him, and He sent Paul, Silas and Timothy. Remember how clearly He directed Paul into the region of Macedonia?

He knows the people in our lives who are searching for Him now. This passage reminds me not to judge or make assumptions based on someone’s behaviour. Yes, maybe they’re purposely defying Him. But more likely, they’re getting by the best they can and reaching for Him in ways only His Spirit can see.

Father, my own perceptions can blind me to what You’re doing. Please help me see what You see in the people around me. You love each one, and You know when someone needs a touch or a word. Help me share the hope and the joy that only You can give. Thank You for the freedom Jesus bought for us.


Todd Agnew’s song, “On a Corner in Memphis,” helps us take a better look at some of the unlikely searchers (and some of the folks in church who aren’t searching, but that’s another story!) Todd is my favourite solo artist. His lyrics and passionate delivery frequently stretch me past my ordinary musical comfort zone. This one’s more country than you’d usually see in my playlist, but I’ve really connected with it. It’s from his album, Better Questions.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Knowing God’s Nearness Today

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24, NIV*

As I prayed for a friend who has serious health trouble, the Holy Spirit seemed to prompt me to ask the Father to reassure her that He’d be with her whatever the future brings, but also that she’d know His nearness today.

We all long for some kind of reassurance for the future – specifically that things will be fine – but God asks us to focus on today. That’s the whole “living in the moment” thing I’m still trying to learn.

Definitely, we need a solid faith that God knows what lies ahead and can deal with it, but we’re not in the future. We’re in the present. And as Jesus said, today has enough troubles of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Father, I’m so thankful that You know what tomorrow holds. Nothing will catch You off guard. Help me to trust the future to You and to live in the present – knowing You’re with me. Open my eyes to what you want to do through me today, who You want to touch. Help me enjoy Your company on the journey.

This week’s song is the classic “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” sung here by the group Selah.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Seeing… and Responding

Then [Jesus] turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.”
Luke 7:45, NIV*

Simon the Pharisee certainly does see the woman, and he’s offended that someone “of that sort” would invade his righteous household. But he doesn’t see her at all: drawn to Jesus, hoping, trusting, desperately needing a miracle.

I remember Mark Buchanan reading this story a few years ago at Write! Canada. “Do you see this woman?” He challenged us with this: do we see an individual’s heart, or just skim over the surface?

Do we see?

Are we free to make a difference, or do we hold back in fear? What if we’re rebuffed? What would the onlookers say?

The Gospel of Luke also tells how Jesus interrupts a mission to heal a dying child. Someone in the crowd has sneaked a healing by touching His robe. As the desperate father is nearing wits’ end, Jesus looks around and asks “Who touched Me?

He knows full well which of the many bumps and jostles made the difference, and He knows the woman’s story: the 12 years’ incurable bleeding, the physicians’ helplessness, the woman’s despair. Under the Jewish law, she would have been considered unclean for all this time, outcast, feeling defeated and unworthy.

Jesus could let her slip away, healed and filled with wondrous hope. But He stops the whole progression and singles her out. Not to chastise her as she might fear, but to acknowledge her worth. He’s not about to let her go whole in body but wounded in soul.

Who will we meet today who needs some kindness?

Lord, grant us to really see the people you bring our way.

We’ve had this song before, but I don’t think there’s a better one for this topic than Brandon Heath’s “Give me Your Eyes”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

God’s Light

…in Your light we see light.
Psalm 36:9b, NIV*

Without God’s light, I’d be like the man in the first part of this psalm, not able to see God because all he sees is himself.

God’s light helps me see others too. And it helps me pray for them, whether they see by His light or not.

It gives me compassion for those who don’t. Once they’ve let their eyes be darkened, how could they see even if they notice something’s not right? They need His light.

I need His light, as His child, to see what He sees, so I can live and pray His way.

Father, thank You for quickening my soul to come into Your light, and please teach me to stay… walk… bask in Your light. Can I be with You today?

This week’s song is “Great Light of the World” by Bebo Norman.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.