Archive for Devotionals on Kindness


One Day

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A Special Letter for Janice

Around Easter I asked for prayer for my friend Janice who is recovering from a serious car accident. She is paralyzed from the chest down, and she’s been in Boston learning how to function in her new life. She’ll be coming home soon to start the next chapter in this unexpected set of circumstances. This is a letter for her that I hope will touch others, too.

Dear Janice,

Every time I think of you I have such a great feeling of thanks that you are alive and with us. “In all my prayers…I always pray with joy.” (Philippians 1:4) Joy comes first, and then concern about the things you need to start afresh.

I’ve thought about you in this recent hot weather, and hoped very much that you are comfortable and in air conditioning. Here we are relying mainly on fans and I have often tossed and turned looking for sleep in vain. I realize that I have so many options like turning on my side, throwing the sheets off, going downstairs for a cold drink. They seem like luxuries now because I am not confined to bed. And again, I hope that you are completely comfortable and sleeping well.

It got me thinking. There was, in fact, one day when I could not go anywhere. It was only one day but it changed my life, and what I learned lying there has stayed with me even to this day. I arose from that bed a different person. I wanted to tell you about it. I bet you are learning these same things, too, and many more truths that are giving you insight and wisdom.

My One Day

Three years before my son Jonathan was born, there was another baby. At 4 ½ months I was happy, round and expectant. What no one knew was that I myself had been born with a major defect of the uterus. There was only half the room in my uterus as there should have been, and on August 1, halfway through the pregnancy, my water broke. Though I didn’t know why this happened I knew this meant real trouble. We headed to Women and Infants Hospital in Providence where they told me nothing could be done and the baby would not live.

One Day

This is where I was put to bed and had to stay there. I had a hospital johnny on (which I hear you didn’t like much, either). But since this was a birth process nurses kept coming to look at my bottom and I felt distinctly unclothed, modesty tossed to the wind. I could not leave the bed until the “miscarriage”, which was really the labor and delivery of a stillborn, was completed. Because of my hidden deformity what should have been a simple matter took 21 hours in all. I had a lot of time to sit there undignified. The huge sense of failure, while not logical, was overwhelming. This tiny charge of mine had died on my watch, as it were. No amount of intellectual knowledge that this was not my fault could allay that.

Three things still in my power

That one day I felt I had lost everything. What did I have left? I couldn’t bring this baby to a point where it could live. What could I still do? I began to take stock.

I could still pray. While arguably I was having a worse day than anyone I knew, there were still people facing struggles I could pray for. Two of my friends were heading to interior Africa that day in what was then Zaire to be Wycliffe missionaries. Not a task for the fainthearted. In the adjoining room to mine a woman was having premature labor and it seemed to be a struggle to make the contractions stop. I prayed for her labor to stop so she could go on and have a live baby. (I would have to confess that any prayers I prayed for myself took on the tone of a bargain. I knew God did not take bargains, but – well, desperation got the better of my spiritual knowledge. Of course, there was no bargain to be had. I was better off praying for someone else that day.)

I could be kind. I could always show kindness and concern for the other people around me and perhaps bring some dignity to myself, too. It was something I could still give, just as I was by myself in the bed. Even if no one else perceived my thought that “Look, I am giving you a gift of kindness in the midst of this horror,” the gesture changed and dignified me as the giver.

And I could try to make people laugh. I have always had a kind of dry, darker humor. I could still try to point out to people the ironies of this cockeyed world. The way you see things is often the way you choose to see them, and it’s a fallen world, and sometimes the imperfect or inadvertent outcomes are pretty funny.

There were, of course, other things I learned from the experience I had, but those are other stories for another day. These three things really shaped me. I still believe in standing behind others in prayer, perhaps in a way I hadn’t before. With each person I meet I try to be kind, and this attitude has become a real part of me. I still try to see the humor in the situations that come up. People don’t always get my jokes, but at least I laugh.

Maybe you will write at some point and add many more, and more profound, thoughts. This is what I learned and what kept me feeling like I still had something to offer in my one truly bedridden day.

When it was over and I could leave the hospital, we named the baby the Hebrew name that means “God is good.” We named her Jan.

With Jesus’ great, surpassing love,


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