How We’re Learning
By Michelle Hieb
I could feel the pressure building as I reached the cashier in the hospital shoppette. All I had to do was choose between peanut butter or cheese. I could do that. I willed my body and mind to remain calm, “Hold it together just a few more minutes…”
“How are you today,” she asked.
The dam broke and so did my voice as she rang up my few items, “Where is the chapel?” is all I could croak out as the tears began to fall.
The poor girl stammered, “I don’t know,” as she looked to the sailor behind me for help. He took a step back, then a voice behind him quietly spoke, “I know.” He quickly traded places with her in line. I finished my purchase and gulped for air as she made hers. Quietly she led me to the sanctuary I sought.
I explained I just needed to calm down. I meant to give her permission to return to her life. Instead she stayed. “May I pray with you?” she gently requested, taking the seat next to me, where she remained until I was ready to return to my daughter’s hospital room. I don’t remember all our words, how long we sat there, or even if we exchanged names as she breathed her peace into my storm. But I’ll never forget her kindness of responding to a complete stranger in need.
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers? He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37 ESV
Whenever I hear the story of the Good Samaritan, I always remember the times I either fail or succeed at showing mercy. Isn’t that the purpose of the parable? To challenge me to care for ALL of humanity? At the time of the “peanut butter or cheese” incident as it’s become known in my family, we were six months into a deployment and my daughter had been sick for half of it with an unknown illness. She was in great pain until was hospitalized and needed urgent intestinal surgery.
I found myself in great need of neighbors. The neighbor who was keeping my sons for a few hours now had them for days, a neighbor to bring me basic necessities, and neighbors to pray. Even an unknown neighbor who prayed with me in a chapel.
God plants us in communities with other people to both love and be loved. He gives us ALL our neighbors to show Himself to us and show Himself through us.
How can we be thankful for neighbors?
- Show mercy: Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Ask God to show you the burdens that your neighbors are bearing and how you can share the weight. Thank him for giving you the opportunity to love Him by loving others. Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
- Ask for mercy: “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the scriptures. It is actually opposite of what God would have us do. Matthew 7:7 tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Philippians 4:6 states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Thank God for the circumstances that cause you to seek Him and the help He sends.
- Respond to mercy: Ask God to help you remember those who have helped you along your journey. If it is possible, thank them in person or in writing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Sit down with a notebook and spend some time in prayer. Ask God to bring to mind those He wants you to be neighbor to and those who have been neighbor to you. Give thanks to God for all of them.
Lord God, Thank you for creating us to be in relationship. Thank you for our neighbors, both those who live in the house next to us, those who are of our own tribe, and those who are nothing like us. Thank you for providing us with neighbors when we needed them. Give us heart, mind, soul, and strength to love you and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Amen
Verses to Ponder:
Who is my neighbor? Luke 10:25-37
What about that really awful neighbor? Matthew 5:43-45
What if I’m the half-dead guy in the story? Romans 8:26
Michelle Hieb currently serves on the prayer team of Planting Roots. Married for 22 years, she and her husband have enjoyed the military life for 17 years. She enjoys homeschooling her 4 children, crafts of all kinds, and encouraging women to grow in their faith and knowledge of the Lord.