The islanders showed us unusual kindness.
They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.
(Acts 28:2 NIV)
Paul and those who traveled with him had just spent 14 days in a boat on a stormy sea before being shipwrecked. Wet, cold, and tired, they were blessed through the “unusual” kindness of the islanders of Malta.
What made it unusual? It was unexpected, from people they did not know. It was spontaneous and proactive. The islanders saw folks who were cold and wet and did something about it.
Gary Hoag, the “Generosity Monk,” recently wrote on his blog, “Kindness is generosity combined with sacrifice and love. It thinks about others and acts on their behalf . . . kindness is “unusual” as most people think and act only for themselves.” I like Gary’s definition of kindness. While I agree that there are many examples of people thinking only about themselves, we also see daily examples of exemplary kindness.
AN EXAMPLE OF UNUSUAL KINDNESS
Recently, Joann and I were having a conversation in a restaurant with an acquaintance who was getting carry-out for her husband who had been in failing health for a while. Caring for him has been a struggle for her at times. We were surprised when, with a smile, energy, and gratefulness in her voice, she described her experience that day.
She was getting coffee in the Mcdonald’s drive-through; when she stopped to pay for it, she was informed that the person in the car ahead of her had paid for her coffee. She was beaming . . . excited to share with us what this seemingly small act of unusual kindness from a stranger had meant to her. An act of kindness gave her joy amid tough times.
I’m pretty sure that these unusual acts of kindness happen more often than we are aware.
Kind, gracious Heavenly Father, as you have been unusually kind and good to me, help me to be unusually kind and good to those around me! Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
1. What is the kindest, most unexpected thing someone has done for you?
2. Who comes to mind when you think about little acts of unusual kindness? Why?
3. Who could you show a little unusual kindness to today?
Tim Schwan taught 5th grade, then served as a Minister of Education and Youth Ministry in Nebraska prior to joining Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Before retiring from Thrivent, Tim served in a variety of leadership and executive roles during his 30 years with the company. He continues to be extensively involved in his church and community in a mix of volunteer and consulting roles. At Faith Lutheran Church (Appleton, WI), he volunteers as an occasional liturgist as well as serving on Faith’s Board of Directors, Comfort Dog Ministry Team, and the Devotion Ministry Team.
Tim and his wife Joann are both Concordia University graduates, and they are blessed with four children and twelve grandchildren.