What’s warmer than a hug when we’re feeling sad or lonely? Not much. An affectionate squeeze encircles our body and embraces our heart. It makes us feel cared for, wanted, and valued.
We all need a hug once in a while. As for 20-year-old Maggie, well, hers was past due. One afternoon while driving along Montréal’s busy highway network, she launched into a screaming match with her car’s other occupant – God.
“I’m so lonely – I can’t do this anymore!” she yelled.
I know how you feel, God seemed to reply. But you’ve got Me.
“That doesn’t work,” Maggie shouted. “You don’t have arms!”
Six months earlier, Maggie had been accepted by a mission agency to work in Québec. The organization assigned her to work with French-speaking people. Her role involved attending a French-speaking church and visiting new contacts that her pastor made. There was just one problem: Maggie couldn’t speak their language.
Months passed. Maggie grew frustrated at her inability to hold a meaningful discussion with others. Really, I am smart, but I just can’t get my thoughts out! she wanted to say. She could talk about recipes and the weather and the time of day, but she couldn’t be herself – a thinker, an analyzer, a woman invigorated by debate. She worried that people viewed her as a friendly airhead – a woman who smiled a lot, but with little intellectual depth.
Cars whizzed past Maggie as she continued down the highway. I’ve come here to serve You, God, and what happens? I end up feeling lost, like a ship adrift with no anchor. She pulled into the church’s driveway and parked her car. She forced a smile as she mentally prepared herself to sit through yet another meeting in a foreign language.
As Maggie entered the building, a young woman approached her. She recognized her as a mother of two small children – someone who, despite the language barrier, had displayed friendliness in the past through smiles and small talk. Now, without speaking a word, the woman threw her arms around Maggie and hugged her. And hugged her. And hugged her.
Maggie stood speechless. Wow, God, I was wrong! You really do have arms!
God does have arms – yours and mine, or in Maggie’s case, the young French mother’s. He wants to hug the hurting, and He does that through His children.
Sometimes that means extending literal, physical hugs. A single mom once told me that she often craves a hearty squeeze. I tucked that into my memory bank and make a point of embracing her each time we meet. Seniors love hugs too. And our spouse and kids can’t get enough.
But we can embrace others in God’s love in other ways too. We can extend emotional hugs by reading our child’s favorite bedtime story again…and again…and again. By taking a new immigrant grocery shopping or helping her register her children at school. By paying for a less fortunate boy or girl to attend summer camp or by providing meals to a family whose mother has just given birth. By sending a care package to a college student far from home or writing a soldier serving overseas.
Sometimes we long for heavenly hugs but don’t receive them as quickly as we wish we would. We wonder if God has arms, and if He does, why He doesn’t use them. In those situations, God might be allowing us to experience pain so that we can understand another person’s grief. When that happens, we can ask God to help us see beyond our own needs and to recognize, as the French woman did, the one who needs a hug from heaven.
Opportunities surround us. May God embrace someone through our arms today!
Taken from Peaceful Moments To Begin Your Day, published January 2012. Formerly titled 10-Minute Time Outs for Busy Women, copyright © 2005 Grace Fox. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402. Used by permission.