I'm a Southerner and church in the South has some unique characteristics, one being food. The church thinks food is the solution for any and all problems. Somebody dies and the bereaved family's house will be over run with gallons of sweet tea, pound cake, creamed corn, fried chicken and homemade pimento cheese sandwiches. Go to the hospital or have a baby and here they come carrying casseroles and apple pies. Visiting evangelist, missionaries and college students just home for the weekend have ended up being diagnosed as diabetic or having gall stones from all of the rich food that was thrust upon them.
Another characteristics is visiting the sick and the suffering. If you end up in the hospital, then some little grey haired couple dressed in polyester will be at your bedside politely chatting and quietly putting pieces of wrapped up homemade pound cake on your night stand. If a family member is in the ER, having surgery or in ICU, they show up out of the woodwork to come sit with you a spell. They pat your shoulder and go get cups of hospital coffee for you.
Sending cards is another one of those things. Cards will show up in your mailbox with the shaky script of some dear old saint who can't visit the hospitals anymore but she can put a card in the mail to just let your know that she has not forgotten you in the midst of the troubles you are experiencing.
The church hugs in all situations. We hug when there is news of great joy. We hug when there is grief or troubles. We hug when we see you in the mall or on the other side of the gas pump at BP. It is just one of those automatic things that we do.
In a world filled with desperate troubles and evil, I have often wondered how any of these things were of real value. Were they just a temporary bandaid because we were really just kind of powerless in situations?
I have come to understand that these acts are true kindness and kindness is something that breaks strongholds. Kindness steps into a situation and in her pocket she brings hope. When kindness comes she also endues a measure of strength to sustain those that are struggling. The enemy of our souls wants us to give up and hang it up. He wants us to abandon our faith in the middle of our troubles so that we never make it past the hump to the joy and victory that our Savior has for us. Those little ladies with the teased hair, those odd gentle folks that show up to minister and that person from your church that tracks you down in the grocery with the big smile and who is always trying to hug you are in reality super heroes. Most of them have lived through some serious troubles and they know what it is like to suffer. They have learned the power of compassion. If you could see past their disguises, then you would know that sweet tea, homemade pound cake and those pimento cheese sandwiches are the enemy of our soul's kryptonite.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.