Postcards from Grateful Hearts

Because “mercy” is in our church’s name we try and make a point to look for people who need mercy and show it to them. Let me begin, though, with a few “mercy” caveats.

First, Christians don’t think mercy is limited to helping people who need money or food.

Second, God defines mercy, not people. Just because you think something is (or isn’t) merciful doesn’t mean God automatically agrees (or disagrees) with you. For example, mercy includes all kinds of things, some of which aren’t popular. It is merciful to speak up for children who may be murdered through an abortion procedure. It is merciful to speak the truth to men and women who are perishing in their sin. It may be merciful to be silent in the face of someone’s suffering.

Third, Christians don’t think this is a substitute for preaching the Gospel, nor do we think that somehow we’re earning God’s favor for what we do. We think, on the contrary, that if we have heard the Gospel preached, we have all the favor from God we need. Which is such good news that we want to share and show it to others who haven’t yet tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

Which gets me to the point of this post, “postcards from grateful hearts.” This past Christmas some folks at Mercy Hill had opportunity to partner with some generous people (some Christians, some not) who wanted to share with people who had financial needs.

In some of these cases, we were acting as Christ’s hands and feet for both the wealthy and the poor. For the wealthy, when they are people who don’t care about Christ, but recognize their responsibility to share of what they have, we can teach them the privilege and purpose and meaning of charity (Gk, caritas, “love”). Then too we are able to encourage people who have material needs, the “poor,” that God hasn’t forgotten them.

Here are a couple of thank you notes we received from people this past Christmas:
Letter #1:

Dear Friend,
Thank you for being so giving to me and my family this Christmas. We were so surprised at your generosity! God has gives you with the fiancee and heart to help a family and I’m so grateful you chose us. We weren’t able to have a Christmas this year. So I’m ever so happy the Lord led you our way. The gift card came in really handy. It was so grateful for that. Lovingly in Christ, ___.

Letter #2:

Dear Friend,
It has been a very tough year financially speaking. Most of my paycheck goes toward child support leaving little money for food and clothes. Thanks to your generosity and kindness I had a very good Christmas. Thank you and God bless you, ____.

I’m posting this in July for a couple of reasons. First, I realize I didn’t get the word out to our congregation about how we were able to help these particular families, so I’m getting caught up on that responsibility. God deserves to be bragged on; and this was a cool expression of God’s grace that should be publicized.

But second, I’d like to pose a hypothetical question. If a gift card came in handy for these families in December 2013, do you think one would come in handy in July of 2014?

One area that people who help the poor wrestle with are the way people who have money only think about them at certain times. I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I call it “compassion fatigue.” In other words, we get tired of helping people because we went them to be “all better,” and wish we could just write a check and make their problems go away. But their problems aren’t just related to money, so checks don’t erase them. And in some sad cases, the check makes it worse.
Here are a couple of challenges.

  • Help me send another gift card to these two families (we helped several this past Christmas); let’s call it Christmas in July. You can contact me and I’ll give you the information on how to make a check out to our congregation.
  • If you’re nearby, help them out by asking how you can spend some time with them personally, giving the gift of human kindness, time, and encouragement.

I can be reached at philliphenry1 at gmail dot com.