The Ministry of a Hug

“…Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)

During a summer conference season, an elderly women came into my office and asked for counsel. After meeting with her and praying with her, my heart was deeply impacted by the pain this women carried. When our session ended I felt the Lord prompting me to ask her if I could give her a hug. She said “yes,” and I gave her a hug that indicated to her that I cared about her and what she was going through. To my amazement she said this was the first time in 10 years that she had received a hug! I just had to give her a second hug. I couldn’t imagine not having that personal touch in such a long time.

Have you ever thought that a hug could be a ministry? I’ve been thinking seriously about this very idea. Sometimes a listening ear is enough and sometimes it isn’t, and although a hug is not appropriate in all circumstances, there are times when a hug is very much what the person needs. It conveys so much to the person receiving a hug. It expresses our Christ-like love for one another and our compassion. It can convey to a hurting person so much more than words ever could.

Have you ever been so deep in a pit that you couldn’t imagine anyone caring about you? Or have you ever been so full of despair and pain that you felt unworthy of a hug? Maybe it’s been a long time since someone gave you a hug or even a gentle touch of a hand. Perhaps there’s someone you know who is going through a very difficult time, or illness, or is grieving over the loss of a loved one. Maybe you’ve sat with a friend, or a stranger, and have listened to them share their heart with you. You prayed with them and felt God prompting you to give them a hug. Ask permission and then give them their hug from God. I haven’t met anyone who has turned a hug down or told me they didn’t need a hug.

Ephesians 4:2 (NIV) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

“Lord, when I learn that someone is hurting,
Help me to know what to do and say;
Speak to my heart and give me compassion;
Let your great love flow through me today.”
Kurt De Haan

Mary Ann Kiernan

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