“Everyone will share the story of Your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about Your righteousness”
Those who live in the southern states may not recognize that you regularly have something that many of us northerners don’t always see, especially during the winter—sunshine. Sunshine is a necessary part of life, not only providing light but Vitamin D. Sunlight is also thought to release serotonin to the brain. Too little sunlight and we may even suffer from something called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD), which manifests itself in sadness, depression and loss of energy. Plants can’t grow without some amount of sunshine. Vitamin D is another important component of sunshine helping us to absorb calcium and to prevent disease.
Identify someone in the group who is going through a difficult time and may benefit from a visit or a phone call. This may be a shut–in, the primary caregiver to a loved one, someone who has recently suffered the loss of a loved one or who is going through a long-term illness. Before visiting or making a call, pray that God will give you wisdom in how you can best share words of encouragement. If visiting is a new concept for the women, take some time to discuss some basic etiquette. Here are some questions that might give more meaning to their visit: How has this experience affected the way you look at God? Can I share with you something that has helped me when I’ve gone through difficult times? Have you ever come to a point in your life where you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord? May I share with you how I came to that point?
Box of Sunshine Care Package
Along with a visit, take care packages as another way of encouragement. Use a yellow box, pail or basket. Attach a label to the container that says “Box of Sunshine.” Ask the women to bring in items that are yellow in color and small enough to put into a gift box. Some suggestions are: Banana chips, lemon drops, Juicy Fruit Gum®, Lays Potato Chips®, M & M Candy®, yellow soap. Several gift boxes can be economically put together in in this way.
The Bible also makes reference to the sun and light: “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45,ESV). This verse reminds us that God is fair in His treatment of all of us. Kindness is a component we should express in our lives every day and pass on to others. When someone is kind to you, pass it on. When someone is unkind, return that behavior with kindness.
When I was young and had been rude to my mother, my father would say, “You can always be kind.” Those words have stayed with me for many years. I can always be kind. We can spread sunshine by the way we act. We can choose to fill someone’s day with light or we can bring in the darkness by having a bad attitude. But while God allows His sunshine to fall on the just and the unjust equally on this earth, there is a place of sunshine reserved only for those who are followers of Jesus Christ. That place is heaven, and there are several verses that give us an idea of what it will be like. “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light” (Rev. 22:5 NIV). Imagine that! Light that comes not from the sun, but from God Himself.
Today we still face cloudy or dim days. For those of us who live in larger cities the sun may even be blocked by smog or pollution. In December of 1952, a terrible smog covered the city of London. By December 7, the smog was so thick that you could not see more than five yards in any direction. This caused a halt in transportation. The chemical components in the smog also contributed to the death of thousands of Londoners. Today we now have the blessing of streetlights and pollution warnings. We know that such a smog or fog is very dangerous, and we are encouraged to be cautious in exposing ourselves to its dangers.
However, sometimes we allow the circumstances of our lives to dim or block the light that God wants to show us. How can we be an encouragement to others when they are going through difficult experiences? We can share the word of God. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31). And, “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; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isa. 43:2, NIV).
Hanging on my wall is a special prayer stitched by my grandmother during a very difficult time in her life. She was a Salvation Army officer whose husband died unexpectedly in his early fifties, leaving her with an 11–year–old daughter and the responsibility of running a corps. Times were hard and my mother recounts having “just enough to eat.” This prayer is a constant reminder to me that God’s faithfulness is what brings me peace and sunshine: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing; God never changes.”