**They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. ** Isaiah 41:6

It’s been a long 3 1/2 weeks but we are back on our feet and starting to get back to our normal schedule. Both my husband and I came down with pneumonia and were hospitalized nearly a week each. I can’t say that it was the best weeks of our lives, but we definitely rested in the prayers of those who knew our situation and in the grace that the Lord gave us to endure each day of treatments and isolation. I have a new found empathy for those that suffered with Covid these past years, because we take for granted every day the ability to breathe without even having to think about it. When we lose that gift, every breath is precious.

During our illness, we received many emails, text messages, phone calls, and daily visits from our courageous son as he walked this trial with us.

Friends and family sent meals, groceries, teas and daily encouragement that they were praying and keeping us before the throne of God. We knew it, we felt it, and we rested in it. Because when someone is really down and out, the only prayer that comes to mind is ” Lord, help me to get through the next hour.” Then oxygen-deprived, brain fog takes over and no other words come.

This weekend our congregation will be celebrating (a week late) a meal together and the theme is GOD’S LOVE FOR YOUR NEIGHBOR. We experienced first hand this neighborly love from people on several continents these past weeks. They encouraged us and helped us get through one more day. Their thoughts and notes kept us company when Jim and I were not allowed to see each other. They kept us focused on the end of the trial instead of the middle of it. They reminded us of the Lord’s power to heal and restore. They infused hope. They carried us when all we wanted to do was lie down and go home.

elderly couple

**They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. **

Many times in the Old Testament, we are told to ** be strong and of good courage**. We are to face our trials with faith and the Lord’s strength and courage.

But sometimes, the trial is bigger than our ability to stand on our own. That is when our neighbors show up and help us and speak courage into us so that we can keep going a little longer.

Being a neighbor is stepping into one anothers’ tough days and being an encouragement, being a help in some way. Bringing a meal, praying with and for them, cleaning their house, mowing their lawn, shoveling snow or just speaking courage and faith into their hearts are just a few ideas.

During our illness, we knew of many others going through their own trials. In the same hospital that my husband and I were in, my husband’s partner in the town ministry was also admitted. He lost part of his leg many years ago, and right now he is fighting an infection in the amputated leg that will probably result in a more aggressive amputation. He is in his 70’s. He will have to start over again, learning how to walk with less of one leg. We aren’t allowed to visit him, yet. Until we are given the all clear that we will not infect him. But he is tired and scared and frustrated. He needs someone to infuse courage into him. His name is Juan.

Others have given birth to premature babies. Others have had surgery. Others have cancer. One of Jim’s young men is hospitalized with a serious infection from a burst appendix.

It is a season of hardships and heartache.

But the prayers and love of others have given us courage to keep going. Now, as we get back on our feet it is our turn to pass that courage on to others, because we have experienced it first hand and we are grateful.

Surely, each of us knows several people that could use some encouragement. A note. A text. A phone call.

Don’t wait. Do it now. Reach out and love and help your neighbor. As little as it might seem to you, it is a great gift to the one that needs it.

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