I was picking up dinner this evening and I could just sense that the hostess, who we know very well, could use a hug. I don’t know if it had been a difficult day at the restaurant, or maybe something tough was going on in her personal life, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that she was having a rough day. So, after giving her a hug, I left with our meal. On the way out the door, I heard her call out to me, “Thanks for the hug – I needed that…”
This morning I watched the news and saw the preparations that were under way for the funeral of Officer Rod Bradway who was recently killed in the line of duty. The camera locked on the hug that the Chief of Police gave the slain officer’s wife. What struck me was how many hugs were exchanged in the brief time that the newscast focused on the story. Then my mind went to the recent funerals we attended for Janet’s parents and I can even tell you how many hugs I gave – and received.
Because when people are hurting, they reach out to others. Relationships become more important – if only for the length of a hug. Remember 9/11 – people who didn’t know each other worked together to locate victims and search for survivors. Police, firefighters, search and rescue teams and thousands of other volunteers worked together and countless hugs were exchanged when people were found and saved from certain death.
Or how about the times we see images of a coal mine disaster – with miners trapped thousands of feet below the surface? Strangers hug one another to satisfy what is almost a primal need to be close to others. And when the rescue is complete, hugs of joy go from one end of town to the other. And, if the event ends in tragedy, there is still an abundance of hugs for everyone to share in the grief of the loss. I particularly remember a number of years ago when a very small child fell down a narrow pipe that was located in her family’s back yard. The entire community came together and stood vigil until the child was freed – days later. Perfect strangers held one another close as the child was raised from the narrow shaft where she had been stuck – dehydrated but alive.
But human hugs aren’t the only ones you can get. God is always standing by to embrace you and hold you tight. Oh, it may not be in the traditional physical sense, but hugs from God are much deeper and satisfying than you can imagine. Because God can even hug you from the inside – that’s the work of the Holy Spirit who indwells all believers. When you need to feel close, God is always there to fill that need.
The verse for this evening is from the apostle John. He tells us, in John 18:9, “This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” The reference is to the Father and how Jesus has made sure that nobody (us) entrusted to His care has been lost – and that includes a whole lot of hugs for every one of us who has ever hurt. My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God is always able to give you hugs – and so are believers across the world. Because the community of faith recognizes that we all need to feel loved and valued. My prayer is that you will realize it when you are need of a little divine hug. In the meantime, if you need to feel special, just call me – I love giving hugs! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…