So, what do you do when you’re sitting in church, the message has been deeply moving, and you hear someone sobbing behind you?

  • Ignore it and hope they stop.
  • Pretend to ignore it—but quietly pray for them.
  • Hope someone else sees them and brings them a tissue.
  • Ask them if there’s anything you can do.

When the woman behind me began to cry—the kind of crying you really couldn’t miss—I began looking in my purse for a tissue to give her when an odd thing happened. The strong minty fragrance of chewing gum filled my senses, and I felt greatly impressed to pass a piece of gum to her. How crazy is that?

Well, I did it—and amazingly—the sobbing immediately stopped.  I think giving her a stick of gum may have worked because, if you think about it, you can’t chew gum and cry at the same time. It also probably shocked her a little and switched her focus from whatever was breaking her heart to the surprise treat being offered to her.  Maybe what helped was the response of another person in her community of faith who risked offering a bit of comfort—even if it was strangely wrapped in a piece of shiny blue foil.

As we left church the woman who had been crying shyly thanked me and I said, “Oh, you’re welcome. I know how moments like these can really get to you.” Driving home, I reached into my purse for a lip balm, smelled the gum again, and recalled how a stranger had once been kind to me on a day when I too had openly been crying in public.

How true these words found in the first chapter of II Corinthians are.

“God comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” The Message

Drop a pack of gum in your pocket or purse this week.  You never know when you might need a surprising stick of comfort.

Please share The Adventures of Piper Tales and read along with your children or grandchildren. Exciting things to come!

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