I was standing in line at the grocery store, looking at the prices of products being scanned by the cashier. As I usually like doing, I noticed who was behind me, an elderly man, and gave him a smile. He took it as an invitation to share something on his mind.
“Did you hear? The coronavirus has been reported in our local hospital,” he said.
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” I replied. I live in the Bay Area in Northern California, and up until that point, the reported cases of coronavirus were far from where I live. Not anymore.
“Yeah, it’s happening.” His words sounded heavy. I saw an opportunity to tuck a moment of God’s kindness into this man’s pocket. I could help him feel heard and be a listening heart of Jesus to him.
“So, how’re you doing hearing the news?” I asked. My question seemed to surprise him, but in a good way. Before he was just talking; now, he was seen.
He shared. I listened. “Whatever happens, the most important thing is to have people to talk to. Like for me, as a mom, enjoying family meals with my boys together makes all the difference to help them not stress out. How about you? What are your favorite foods?” I wanted to help him think about things that bring him peace and joy.
As my new friend talked about what brings him joy, it brought a smile to his eyes.
It happened again as I was waiting for an hour at Walgreen. I’d just come from the doctor’s and needed a prescription to recover from the flu.
The lines were hardly moving. People were getting frustrated, mumbling under their breaths, just loud enough to say how terrible and ridiculous it was to wait so long. Some were throwing their hands up in the air, and little kids started melting down. People were stressed.
I noticed how the pharmacy staff cashiers were looking haggard and tired, but because they were providing a service, they couldn’t express their stress. They were trying their best to process the orders.
When it was finally my turn at the counter to pay, the person who rang me up turned out to be the pharmacist herself. She looked very worn out. In one hand, she had the phone to her ear on hold with an insurance company for another customer. In the other hand, she was scanning my prescription while telling me about the medication precautions — all while answering questions from staff thrown from every direction.
“I’m so sorry about the wait. We’re really backed up.” She was talking a hundred miles per hour with her shoulders hunched over. I noticed her lips seemed dry and wondered when the last time was that she had a drink of water.
Then I did something I do whenever I see an opportunity to bring someone a moment of God’s peace: I imagined she were my sister or friend.
When we picture someone as a sister, brother, or friend, we can become Christ to them in that moment. Because God’s Holy Spirit is alive in you, when we imagine someone is our friend, we can become inspired to encourage them.
“Thank you so much for your help,” I replied with an empathetic smile. “You have a tough job. You’re doing so great! You should know that!” I spoke my words slowly, with intention.
She seemed lost for words, “I just feel so horrible about the wait.” I saw her reticence as an opportunity to lift her spirits and help her see how God sees her, and I told her how she was a part of my story.
“Well, I’ve been coming to this Walgreen’s since I’ve been a mom for fourteen years. I’ve picked up a lot of prescriptions over the years for my two boys. You’re always so conscientious telling me about the prescriptions, though I’m sure you’ve said the same thing to a gazillion customers. I want you to know I appreciate you. You didn’t know it, but you’re a blessing!”
When I said that, her eyes welled up with emotion, and she said, “Thank you.”
Friends, we have, as children of light, the power to lift a person’s spirit with God’s peace by simply offering a smile, being present, and seeing what the other person might say. We can offer the gift of listening.
You are a woman of promise and purpose: God’s promise is to love and care for you. When others panic, you have the power to bless them at a time when we all need connection most.
Practice soul care. Turn to your loving Savior Jesus standing next to you – whether in line at the store or wherever you are – and hear the Prince of Peace tenderly whisper, I love you. I will help you. I am with you.
Then offer a loving word or smile to others with the blessing of peace. Turn a moment of panic into promise. Shine your light.
How are you doing, friend? What promise in Scripture brings light and peace to your soul? You are so beloved. Let’s all share our certain hope in our Prince of Peace during these uncertain times. Here’s mine – may it encourage you today:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.
Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
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When others panic, you have the power to bless them at a time when we all need connection most. #coronavirus #community -@TheBonnieGray: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Thank you SO MUCH for doing this and sharing this. Wow. I really appreciated this. I love your kind, friendly, encouraging heart like Jesus’. Your ministering to others sounds so therapeutic like a licensed counselor or like a friend like Jesus or like a nurturing mother. The world needs this so much! 🙂 And Oh my GOODness! I just got through sharing this exact verse w/ my Sister In Christ on the phone and had just got through typing this verse as a testimony on someone’s social media right before reading your email/blog page sharing the same verse! I exclaimed out loud and my jaw dropped! :O What are the odds of that? I don’t think it was coincidence b/c that’s not giving Father God nor the Holy Spirit the credit! I think God was confirming that verse to me and giving me that verse, yet again. for the situation I’m. 🙂 I hope this encourages you. 🙂
Bonnie Gray says
Hi Tamoliya! Wow, I LOVE that!! It’s the Holy Spirit lighting up His beautiful Word in your heart – his promises in Isaiah and all the different ways you’ve tucked God’s comfort and peace in your heart – they’re now sparking as you listen to your friends and even sharing encouragement on social media – flowing from your heart, to share with sisters around you! No coincidence! Keep sharing your beautiful spirit and words. Thank you for sharing – this is so encouraging! We’re all connected as sisters in Christ, even as we’re going through these tough times, there is a light in us!
Tonya Ellison says
Thank you so much for these words! I have been dealing with significant anxiety over the last few days. In fact I was up at 3:45 this morning with a racing heart and mind. I thank God for using you to share this message today.
Melinda Henderson says
Praying for you, Tonya. I am going through something similar and know what you are talking about all too well.
Bonnie Gray says
HI Tonya, I have experience with anxiety and panic attacks on my life journey too, so I totally know that feeling, friend. Be gentle with yourself and remember you’re not alone. I love that Jesus didn’t hide his anxiety when He faced uncertainty in his journey in Gethsemane – even He needed friends, the few disciples he felt most comfortable with that night in the garden, as he struggled and stayed up late and couldn’t sleep, because he didn’t want to be alone either. We all need friends to know we’re in it together. Thank you for being comfortable enough with us here among friends to share your heart. I am sending you a virtual cup of peppermint tea to you, friend. 🙂 I wrote a devotional Whispers of Rest, to share the different ways I had to learn to take better care of myself during times of anxiety and stress, and refresh my soul and my body with God’s ove. So, if you’re looking for more encouragement, I know you’ll love it!
I feel the same, have been panicking and feeling guilty for panicking. This has reminded me to trust the Lord with sl1 my heart. X
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I love that scripture in Isaiah. As Christians, we know how this whole story ends and in knowing that, and God’s abiding love, fear and panic are cast out. It is our job as light-bearers and peace-givers to spread that word of hope and promise. When times are uncertain, like they are now, we need to speak up and share the hope that lies within us. Awesome post and way to bless the people you encountered running your errands. I’m sure your words and actions spoke volumes.
Bonnie Gray says
Thanks, Bev. Love how you speak with words from the heart! We have hope in Christ, and because we experience the same emotions and human experience, we can come alongside each other wherever we go to be a gentle reminder that there is goodness in the world, because God is walking alongside us and carrying us through.
Love how you word things! Thank you for being a voice of calm!
Jackie Yoder says
Thank you Bonnie! Your insight and example is the exact encouragement we need to be blessed and to bless others! You always speak to my soul, and point me back to Him! I am grateful!
Bonnie Gray says
I means so much to know the words that speak to my soul speak to yours, Jackie! So grateful to know we’re on this journey together, friend! love to you!
Mel JDH says
Thank you for your words and examples of ways to halt the seemingly endless cycle of negativity! It’s sooo easy to let our own frustrations get in the way of sharing God’s Light! I can’t imagine waiting an hour at the pharmacy! Wow! Your two situations could have gone so differently for me or anyone else! I’ve pictured you as God’s “light” breaking through the “darkness” for both of those people! Plus, others nearby can’t help but have light shining on them, too, even if just a little… Your light-bearing could have, and probably did help others that day, too!
Bonnie Gray says
Well, it’s normal to feel frustrated because an hour was a very long time to wait! 🙂 But, whenever I feel stress creeping in, I like imagining Jesus standing next to me, with his hand in mine (for He is), and I imagine what Jesus would lovingly whisper to me. I figure I can’t change what’s happening at that moment. Then, I breathe and notice what is happening with others and imagine how they must be feeling and I look for opportunity to simply smile or simply breathe and focus on something peaceful. It’s amazing what a smile can do. Research shows that simply smiling relaxes our body and when others see it, they feel more relaxed too. And yes, others in line were listening in and you can see they were very interested in the conversation too! Sometimes, people don’t respond. But, that’s okay. I figure they must really be having a bad day! Thanks for sharing a comment, Mel. It makes my day – having real conversations here. You make this real! Take care, friend!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Where is our faith in God. We all are talking about this Coronavirus. God the other day showed me two good points. As Christian. You remember the story in the Bible where Jesus Fed Five Thousand people that does not include the children that would have been there that day. They were not worried about Germs or what they catch. All they wanted to do was hear the master of the world speak. That Master was Jesus. They knew Jesus would not let anything happen to then. Sure the Disciples had little faith as well they said too Jesus too send them of to buy food as it was getting late. But Jesus knew that there was a boy there with Five loaves and two fish. Jesus decided to test the Disciples faith by saying you feed them. Then Jesus showed the merical by telling the Disciples to get the people all Five thousand plus Children to sit on the grass. Get the Disciples to give Jesus the Five loaves and two fish. They found. Jesus showed them his faith in his merical. By looking on to Heaven. Blessing it and breaking it. Telling the Disciples to give it out to all the people that day including the children. Everyone was fed. That was some merical. Out Five loaves and Two Fish. Five thousand people plus the Children that day where fed. The people and Children didn’t think of Germs. Or it didn’t say about them going to wash their hand before eating. So that speaks volumes too me. Jesus just got them to sit on grass the people all Five thousand plus Children as well. They did as they were told. They all knew Jesus would take care of them and let nothing happen too them. The real reason they were all there that day was to here Jesus speak. They didn’t worry about Germs like this Coronavirus on our news today. You get that story in Mark 6 verses 30 – 44 Another thing that speaks to me why are we not be being Jarius as Christian today when we have Family sick or we are self our not well. Like in Mark. 5 verse 23 Jarius didn’t go anywhere else first but to Jesus. For his Daughter. As it says in verse 23 And begged Him beging Jesus earnestly saying “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hand on her that she will live. You or your Family member my not be dying but sick. Look at Jairus. He went first to Jesus. Before going anywhere else. Lets as Christian do the same. Go Jesus in prayer instead of worring about this Coronavirus. Be Jairus. Going to Jesus first in Prayer and standing on the promises in his word the Bible. Remembering Jesus will look after us and let nothing happen too us. Do what his Holy Spirit tell us too do. Don’t panic over this Coronavirus. We have big big God who will look after us. Jairus did that for his daughter he belived so in verse 24 of Mark 5 because of his faith Jesus went with Jairus. I say amem to what God showed me through theses two things out of the Bible to do with the Coronavirus. I trust God for everything plus I also stand on Philippians 4 verse 19 which say. And my God shall supply all Your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Meaning God will meet all my needs. So I don’t need to worry. Start standing on the promises in the Word of God the Bible. Plus prayer. Go to Master Jesus First. For everything listen to what his Holy Spirit tells you to do. Excellent reading today. Xxxx
Ann Woleben says
What a wonderful reminder to be attentive to the needs of others – be it physical, mental, or emotional~ I don’t remember where I saw this quote, but it helps me: “In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.” He is always with us.
Bonnie Gray says
Oh, I thank you for that BEAUTIFUL quote, Ann! I’m going to copy it into my file of favorite quotes. I don’t know that one. Yes, I’m a word lover and quote collector. 😉 We’re kindred spirits, friend! 🙂 have a beautiful day. He is always with us. xo
Thank you for sharing these beautiful examples and the reminders they flow from. It’s my desire to speak love and life into others but a place I struggle to put in to practice. You reminded me first I need to see them, really look at others God brings into my path. Then let my heart truly hear, the fear, anxiety, loneliness, etc, beyond the words. Hear their heart. Finally trust that what God has already put in my heart will flow from me with the help of the Holy Spirit. I know as with everything if I am faithful to practice He will be faithful to continue to teach me.
Lora Bloomquist says
Perfect timing and encouragement for us all! Thanks. Shared!
Jen C says
Thank you for your inspiration and reminder. This is much needed at such a time of panic. You’re such an awesome example follow.
Blessings to you and your family,
Michele Morin says
Thank you, Bonnie, for setting the example here of reaching out and feeling the temperature of the room we’re in. We need each other.
Dianne G says
Thank you so much for sharing this, Bonnie! What a beautiful way to share the love and light of Christ. It’s a wonderful reminder that we can respond differently than everyone else does.
Well said, Bonnie!
Bonnie Gray says
Aw.. thank you so much, Irene, for your sweet note! It’s encourages my heart to know what speaks to my soul speaks to yours, friend!
Trish Schweitzer says
Thank you for your post today. There are several people I run into on a regular basis and I never know exactly what to say. There was one particular woman that I come across almost every week, she and her family have a lot of addiction issues. I don’t know her, I don’t even know her name, but she feels comfortable enough to share some personal details with me. She seemed even more distressed this week. While she was talking, I was silently asking God to tell me what to say to her to give her hope. I had nothing to say, other than I will pray for her and gave her a reference on where to go for help for herself. Telling someone you will pray for them seems so cliche. I wanted to say something more but didn’t know what. Your example was great and I will try to put that into practice the next time that happens. I feel like she was put in my path to shed hope for something good in her life. I don’t know if my saying I will pray for her helped her at all, but your post gave me a better insight into how I can make her feel heard and noticed in her chaotic life.
Bonnie Gray says
WOW! “I feel like she was put in my path to shed hope for something good in her life. ” YES, sister! Trish, I LOVE hearing how you are a light to this one woman – and did you know, you are also a light to her family? Because as you give her the gift of listening (which the world doesn’t have time for), you are nurturing the light in her with Jesus and she can return home with her light a little brighter. Your loving actions to listen to her is literally being Jesus to her! You remind me of Jesus who Scripture says, “A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.” The practice of asking questions is a great way to help a person feel loved and heard. We don’t even have to say much because most people just need space to share their heart and story! The person walks away feeling loved and hope, because they are seen by you. Another practice in responding is to say a simple word of affirmation or share what you just heard her saying or see about her. I know without a shadow of a doubt that your prayers and your being present has not only helped her. You have loved her. And this is the greatest blessing you have given her. Thank yo so much for loving her with our Lord Jesus who is beside you and her each time you talk – and thank you for sharing this with us! You are a woman of promise and care!
Tami Harbin says
I want to write Best Posts Ever!!!! But I tend to really like all your posts! Thanks for this.
Tami Harbin says
*Best Post Ever! Silly autocorrect.
Bonnie Gray says
Aw.. thank you so much, Tami! It’s encourages my heart to know what speaks to my soul speaks to yours, friend!
Linda Taggart says
Hey Bonnie! It’s been a while! We are now in the epicenter of coronavirus. Everything is cancelled. And like you I am praying for ways to speak God’s love into the gloom. Thanks for being the light.
Bonnie Gray says
HI Linda!! Yes, we are right in the epicenter of the coronavirus. It’s so surreal, isn’t it!? Yep, everything is cancelled here too. This is where we lean into our faith and shine our light – and we all need extra soul care and filling our tanks! 🙂 I love how we’re sisters thorughout the years and can pick up where we last left off! 🙂 hope you and your family are doing well, friend! xo
This made my own eyes well with emotion. I never really thought of it like that, imagining those we come in contact with, strangers, as our brother or sister. It gave me a new perspective that I will pray and ask God to write on my heart so I don’t forget, especially when frustrated about something. Thank you and may God bless you in many ways!
Your words always refresh and uplift me, Bonnie. Thank you for sharing the Isaiah verse, too. We are never alone in all things—comforting and oh such TRUTH.
Bonnie Gray says
Thank you so much, Lynn!! We carry the greatest cure – God’s love and comfort. Receiving what we need from our loving Savior, to naturally flow to those around us. Time for extra soul care and being gentle and kind with ourselves, as we feel His hand walking us through the waters and His arms carrying us through the fire. We are women of promise! 🙂
Joyce Ehrhart says
I needed this devotional today‼️Thank you for sharing your inspiration. May God bless you daily.
Bonnie Gray says
Thank you so much, Joyce!! It blesses me to know the words to speak to my soul speak to yours! May God bless you with HIs peace and presence — with moments of His loving whispers to you, just for you, today!
I LOVE your heart for people and Jesus! You are a beacon of light in the darkness. Yes! we can choose to bring the promise of peace to people when we stay attentive to the needs of others and allow the river of God to flow and touch lives.
Gretchen Bowman says
Thank you, your words are just like a cool glass of sparkling water when we are so thirsty. As you mentioned, just like those same words of our precious Jesus are thirst quenching for us all.
Sara Willoughby says
This is so beautiful and true! Making people feel seen has become a goal for me in the last few months. I never used to talk to anyone I didn’t already know. But by watching some sweet Christian friends of mine do what you described in this article, I’ve started working up the courage to just talk to whoever is in front of me and try to make them feel loved and seen, and it’s honestly been so much fun to make new friends and see people’s faces light up. Why don’t we do this more often?
Becky Keife says
Bonnie, I love your heart and encouragement! Thank you for these timely timely words. God is using them!
Cynthia M says
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
Thank you for these words Bonnie… they’re important and timely and oh,so necessary. To feel seen and heard is such a tremendous gift. Thank you for blessing us today.
Bonnie, thank you SO much for this! What a practical example of shining light in the darkness. I feel like the world is going crazy, but you’re right about it creating an opportunity for us to bless others. Thank you so much! I always appreciate what you share. 🙂
Krista Hutcherson says
Thank you so much, Bonnie!!! I really needed to hear this today. We are surrounded by fear and panic right now! Thank you for sharing how you shone God’s love and light in the midst of the situation. We must keep encouraging one another to focus on God and not fear!
Susan G. says
Thanks for this today Bonnie!
I’m doing my best to dispel panic, fear and hysteria and tell people the truth, so they will see with a different perspective and have more peace. These certainly are trying times and we need to share why we have peace…because the Prince of Peace is what everyone needs!
So terrible the media is spreading so much fear, as if people are dropping like flies everywhere…which is not the truth.
I hope when this is all over, people will trust not in what the media is saying, but in our Savior!
People are ripe to hear the Gospel of Peace!
Getting an email from you puts a smile on my heart, Bonnie. I think your mere presence would be calming to a stressed person because the Holy Spirit is radiating God’s Light and Love within you.
Sweet Bonnie. Thank you for your words of wisdom, obviously you are a listener. We all need to be listeners so that we too can hear God’s voice and then be obedient.
I truly believe that we all have the power through Christ to bring about change-one person at a time.
I love the way you express yourself. It is encouraging and not accusatory. So often our words are accurate but can become holier than thou even if not intended to be. Thank you again for the reminder to keep our words and attitude sweet and inviting sovtgat others will feel welcome to Christ’s table.
Megan bland says
Thank you so much for this. I needed this and the verse. I am a nurse here in western Washington. It has been very chaotic. I know God is with me and in control. However, I am human and forget to look up and remember this. People are scared and panicked. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Since I am in healthcare I’ve been keeping up with Italy. I never thought this was a possibility. It seems all surreal. This I do know: I have been called into the profession and I will step forward in my calling and do exactly what God has called me too.
Beth Williams says
It’s been a while for me also. Loved your book Whispers of Rest. Our society moves rapidly. Everyone is in a big hurry & so very rude. I try to practice this soul care technique at work. When I see co-workers-janitors & stockers- I thank them for doing a good job. People on that level don’t usually get praise. I often try to help patients & their families feel better. Talking with & comforting them. Letting them know I understand how hard it is to be in a hospital & wait for them to get well. After checking my groceries out I thank the cashier for their assistance. Constantly smile at others trying to make them feel seen & loved. Life is hard enough down here. People need to have the light of Jesus shed a little more in their lives. I’m doing my best to practice & model that.
Thank you so much Bonnie for sharing such an ordinary but warmhearted story with full of encouragement and care!
Be aware of others contribution which we aspire to and take for granted is easy, however, taking step to appreciate especially someone you don’t know is more like what an angel could do.
I read it for my family in March. Thank goodness you made it stuck in my head successfully and proudly keep pushing me to share my thoughts here today 🙂 I think, I feel much better now 🙂