Simple Acts of Love to Serve a Hurting Heart

They were beautiful.  Adorned with a tattered piece of twine and arranged in an old mason jar, the tiny bouquet of blooming pink peonies and budding green hydrangeas was the sweetest gesture.  Adding to the sweetness, the flowers were accompanied by a little note that read, “I’m here, I care, and sweet thing—you are loved.” Little did the sender of that simple but sweet bouquet know just how much her gesture meant to me that day.  Some years ago now, I received this bouquet a day after my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.  Fearful of the unknown and downright overcome with emotion – mostly that I might not have my precious momma for much longer – God used this gesture of hospitality as a reminder of His enduring faithfulness and love.

Dear ones, biblical hospitality is a sweet, sweet expression of God’s love.  It is the simple yet powerful picture of the absolute beauty of the gospel message.  It’s the outstretching of an open heart and hands.  It’s the fragrance of a woman who has been drenched in God’s overwhelming mercy and can’t help herself from sharing the overflow.

Biblical Hospitality for today’s Biblical Woman is simply saying, “I’m here, I care, and sweet thing-you are loved.”

As a hospitality coordinator, I often get asked how to show hospitality to the hurting ones God places in our lives, ones that are battling a long-term challenge, major crisis, or terminal illness.  I often hear something like, “I really want to reach out to my friend but I don’t know what to say,” or “I pray for her but I don’t know what else I can do,” or “I’m sure she has lots of friends and family already helping.”

So how do we show hospitality to the lady in our church who is now on dialysis for the remainder of her life?  Or the young mother who sleeps at the hospital almost every night of the week because her newborn baby will be in the NICU for several months?  Or the twentysomething who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and must go to radiation every day for one hour for forty days straight?

Over the years, I’ve made the observation that while most of us are good at offering the occasional gesture of hospitality, when it comes right down to it, we could use some help in learning how to show hospitality to our friends and family who need continual reminders.  Reminders that someone cares, someone is praying, and that they are loved.  Oh, I know that the intention is there, dear ones!  I know that desire to keep sending those cards, to keep visiting that hospital room, to keep checking in despite the resistance you receive on the other end is there inside of us.  But life happens and we forget.  We get those promptings on our hearts but just don’t follow through with them.

So how do you become a woman who expresses hospitality to the hurting ones God places in our lives?

How do we express the appropriate care and concern that just might be the reminder they need to get them through one more radiation treatment, one more night in that tiny NICU room, one more long drive to and from the dialysis center?  I’m so very glad you asked.

One of my most favorite female characters we find in the Scriptures is a woman named Dorcas.  (Yes, that’s her real name!)  Her story is encouraging to today’s Biblical Woman because it’s a story of how God used one lady to spread His story of grace and mercy to the hurting ones in her life.   We find her story in Acts 9:36-43. Before we look there though, let me pose a question.  If you were to be described in one sentence, what would you want to be described as?

Not much is shared about Dorcas; in fact, we only get one sentence to really know this woman.  I think Paul’s one-sentence description is absolutely breathtaking. Look at how the Scripture describes this little lady of the Lord: “ Now there was in Joppa a  disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.  She was full of good works and acts of charity.” Wow. Just in this one description, we learn so much about her.  She’s a lover of the Lord—a disciple—who follows the Lord with her whole being.  There was no uncertainly whom she followed nor was there any mistaking His goodness because she was known among friends and strangers alike as a lady full of good works.

She was not chained by spiritual performance. No, she was full of good works because she found delight in all that God had done, was doing, and would do in her life, and responded in worship.  Her simple (notice it does not say extravagant!) acts of hospitality were, in fact, simple acts of worship. Yes, biblical hospitality, sweet sisters, is an act of worship. Her simple acts of hospitality to those hurting people God placed along her path were expressions of love and obedience to her Lord.  I don’t know about you, but of all the things to be described as, I would want most of all to be known as a fervent disciple of Christ who served the Lord with her whole heart and who really knew how to love and serve in His name for His glory.

So what does this story have to do with you and me and biblical hospitality?  Lots!  We learn that God can use one woman (that’s you!) to spread His mercy and grace to the hurting.  We learn that God can use one woman (that’s you!) to use what He’s given her to bless others.  We learn that God can use one woman (yes, you!) to do what you can—be it ever so simple—and be a reminder of His care, His concern, and His comfort.  You, sweet one, can be known as a modern-day Dorcas.

Now there was in {insert your town’s name here} a disciple named {insert your name here}.  She was full of a love for her Lord, and her delight in Him resulted in fruitful worship—biblical hospitality and simple acts of love in His Name.

So now that you know that God can use you to express His love in powerful ways, albeit even the simplest of acts, here are a few ways to show hospitality to the sweet ones in your lives that need a little dose of comfort—reminders that someone is there, they care, and they are oh-so-loved.


Simple Acts of Love


The Personal Touch of a Personal Note.

I think we can all remember a time when we received that note at just the perfect time with just the right words that spoke to our hearts.  From personal experience, there’s nothing quite like receiving a note that reminds me that someone cares and is praying for me.  Don’t know what to say?  Don’t let that stop you!  Books like Hallmark’s “On a personal note/A guide to writing notes with style” is an easy, step-by-step guide to writing notes for every occasion, right down to the greeting, body, and closing.  A word of advice: Stop worrying about what to say and just say what’s on your heart. Let her know you’re praying, or simply share a Scripture verse.  A prayer for guidance.  It’s that simple.  As a rule of thumb, I would suggest sending notes every couple of weeks (or more often) for long-term situations.


Supersize the Comfort and Cheer.

Often, those involved in long-term/terminal illnesses or crises need desperately to feel “normal.”  Their “routines” have been turned upside down.  It might sound silly, but just going out to eat at a favorite lunch spot or visiting a favorite store gives them a sense of normalcy.  Some ideas: gift cards to their favorite restaurant, flower shop, salon, bookstore, coffee spot, or music store like iTunes or Amazon.


Make Yourself Available.

Often, families who walk the path of cancer, terminal illness, or a long-term situation that results in trips to and from the hospital or care facility have a hard time depending on others.  Friends and family often provide incredible amounts of help and care early on, but the support naturally tends to decrease as time goes on.  Regardless of the resistance you might experience at first, make yourself available to the family long-term (or join with other couples) for transportation, prayer, someone to talk to (and vent), doctor’s visits, taking the kids for the day (or overnight!), cleaning the home, and grocery shopping.  I will never forget a sweet lady of God—Mrs. Celeste Parker, who made herself available to my family and “adopted” me as her spiritual daughter.  She was relentless in her dedication to showing hospitality to us!  A modern-day Dorcas, she loved my family fiercely and showered us with simple acts of love for the duration of my mom’s battle(s) with cancer (which amounted to several years).  Make yourself available. I guarantee it will bless hurting families.


The Powerful Gift of Prayer.

I encourage you to pray immediately whenever someone shares a prayer request.  Pull that person close and go to the Father’s throne on their behalf.  Whether you’re in the middle of the kitchen, the check-out line at Walmart, or over the phone, praying together is a gift unlike any other.  It speaks volumes to the one hurting and to those who witness your incredible faith.  Remember, hospitality is an incredible gesture of God’s love to the lost as well!  I don’t know how many times I’ve stopped to pray with someone in a store and someone will come up after I finish and I’m given an opportunity to share about God’s mercy and grace.  Hallelujah and amen, girls!  That’s what biblical hospitality is all about!


My challenge for you: I encourage you to take these considerations and make a “Sweet Thing Hospitality Box.” That way, when God prompts your heart to love on a sweet little friend, you’ll be prepared and ready to respond in obedience!  Grab a large hat box or other container and fill it with notecards, stamps, pens, a Bible Promise Book, gift cards, and a current address book for starters.

Biblical hospitality for the hurting is indeed a sweet gesture of God’s love. Won’t you be a modern-day Dorcas and make yourself available to show hospitality to the sweet ones in your life that need a little dose of comfort, of care, of love?  Really, it’s as simple as saying, “I’m here, I care, and sweet thing—you are loved.”