What began as a trip to the ER one evening a couple of weeks ago became a two-day stay in the hospital. My symptoms were clear, but diagnosis and treatment were slower in coming, so I was in a highly stressed state of mind, body and soul. At some point during the evening, the nurse said to me, “May I say something? You have been stressed and anxious since you got here, pacing, talking and trying to diagnose your own problem.” [Guilty as charged.] “The tension is only making matters worse for your body,” he continued, “Your job is to rest and to trust us to do our job.” He was right—there was good wisdom in his words—so I did my best to lie quietly and remind myself of all the technology and medicine in the hands of the experts caring for me. My role was to receive from them.
We love Jesus’ parable of the socially ostracized Samaritan providing care for a badly beaten Jewish man when neither priest nor rabbi would offer the same. Though fictitious, he remains today as the exemplar of “love your neighbor as yourself” and a continual call for us to do likewise. Yet there are two sides to care: giving and receiving. Both are humbling things; each calls us outside of ourselves. As one person gives in kindness and peace, another receives in gratitude and trust. Humility blossoms where pride once took root, and differences aren’t so different anymore.
Jesus said that when He returns, He will say to those on His right:
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. —Matthew 25:34-36, 40
Did you catch it? Jesus gives care, of course, yet Jesus also receives care. How so? He is with you; He lives in you. He is so close to you that when you receive care, He receives care. He is inseparable from you, committed to you, and humble enough to receive with you. Then may we also be humble enough to receive care from people who give care, like Jesus does.
Father, send your Spirit to soften my heart to give as Jesus gives and to humble my heart to receive as Jesus receives. You are good, God. Thank you. In Christ I pray. Amen.