I am writing this at my nine-year-old daughter's bedside in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The last six weeks have been rough as we went from learning she had two heart defects to this: open heart bypass surgery.
But this is not the first time God has asked us to carry a heavy cross.
Miscarriage, seven weeks in the NICU, various special needs for various kids, and much more besides—all of it has always coupled with our tight budget to make the difficult times even harder. Each time our pride has wanted to hide the needs we had, to buckle down and get through it on our own, but that is not how the Body of Christ works for the glory of God.
Instead friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers have stepped forward to identify our needs, fill the gaps, and carry our burdens for us. Their gifts range from $1,000 to a delicious loaf of homemade bread. Both were greatly appreciated and every single gift or act of service has shone a light on what we could not do for ourselves, but also, and even more so, on how much we are loved.
Maybe you have given like this, too, when a friend was in need. If you have—and no matter to whom—please allow me to say thank you. The Archangel Raphael says in today's first reading, "Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness." Your kindness and generosity have been greatly appreciated and have made such a difference—a real difference—and you have honored God in the act. May He bless you abundantly in return.
And then maybe some of you have had to receive like this. You know all too well how it is both beautifully humbling and incredibly hard. I do not know why God allows some of us to receive much more than we can ever give, but I do believe it is a very special gift from Him.
To be made little is a great gift in the Kingdom of God. To be the stand-ins for Christ as His followers love and serve Him through their love and service to us must be a significant honor.
May we, like the widow, give from our poverty—may our lips praise and our hearts glow with gratitude worthy of such love.
Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker and homemaker. She lives with her husband and six children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.