Tune: COTTAGE GROVE
[This is a re-run from 2017.]
[This is a re-run from 2017.]
You may not be familiar with this prayer hymn based on a Philippine folk song. It has appeared in more recent hymnals, but as fewer congregations refer to those pew books, it may well be overlooked. This hymn-line is, however, worth visiting.
Originally written as a children’s hymn, the refrain is simple, child-like… almost ‘cute’:
Praise to God, Fount of love, praise from morn till set of sun,
Praise at home, praise at church, praise to God ev’rywhere on earth.
Today’s hymn-line is the final one of the last stanza: With upright heart I give tender care and sympathy. I am attracted to this poetic sentence because we sometimes confuse the terms “caring for” and “taking care of.”
It is possible to take care of someone without truly caring about them. In other words, we may be in a position to help someone – to take care of their needs – and do it passively, perhaps out of duty… or even because we are paid to do so. Our attitude may be “Well, somebody has to do it!”
However, those who take care of someone while truly caring about them are wonderful examples of the way Christ taught us to serve others. These are those who connect with the person in need, have compassion on them, and who take care of the situation to the best of their ability.
For me, the best example of this may be at your local hospital: nurses. Having spent many hours in hospital rooms with both my parents, my wife, and friends and family members, I have observed some on the nursing staff who breeze in, tend to the needs of the patient, and quickly move on to the next. They do the job for which they are paid… and they do it with great proficiency.
On the other hand, we have all witnessed the nurse who treats the patient with great interest, who speaks to them with kindness, who truly cares for the person… not just their immediate health needs. These are the ones who (whether they realize it or not) are following that example of the Great Physician… the sympathizing Jesus.
To be this kind of caretaker, humility is required. Time is required. The ability to identify-with is required. Unhurried, sincere attention is given, and the result is more healing than the aforementioned laissez faire approach.
I saw this so much during my mother’s final visits to Fort Sanders Presbyterian Hospital in Knoxville. Those round-the-clock nurses truly cared about Hedy Huff; they liked her and enjoyed her; they went out of their way to be sure she was well cared for. I flew in from Denver and arrived at the hospital just a few minutes after my mother had died and was met as I stepped off the elevator by my daddy, other family members, Preacher Cope… and several weeping nurses. It was at that moment I realized the difference between “caring for” and “taking care of.”
If you ever have opportunity to sing this hymn, I hope you’ll remember this little blog post. And the next time you see someone giving care-full attention to the needs of another, thank them for it. Then go thou and do likewise!