By Rev. Joseph M. Esper
Have you ever been ready to give up, but then suddenly had your hope renewed by an unexpected encounter?
Something like this once happened to the actor Mickey Rooney when he was trying, without apparent success, to break into show business.
As he later described it, Mickey walked into a restaurant and ordered a bowl of soup. He was overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness and despair, but suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking up, he saw a young waiter in a white uniform who said, “Sir, I have a message for you. The Lord Jesus Christ asked me to tell you that He loves you very much, and that you will experience great joy from Him.” Then the waiter walked away.
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Mickey immediately felt a profound sense of peace and security, and in particular, renewed hope. He rushed to thank the waiter for restoring his faith, but couldn’t find him anywhere. When he asked the head waiter where the young waiter had gone, he was told that no one employed by the restaurant fit that description.
This encounter changed Mickey Rooney’s life, and he went on to become a very successful movie star. As he later said, “I know I had the message delivered to me directly from Jesus by an angel. For the first time in my life I knew what real love is, because God is love.”
As many people have discovered, sometimes God sends angels to us—genuine spiritual beings who, if we’re open to their help, guide and protect us, and assure us of God’s love. Indeed, there are numerous books describing such encounters, many of them life-changing.
However, there’s a certain sense in which we are called to be “angels” to one another, offering support, encouragement, and hope. A simple gesture of respect, a word of encouragement, or an act of love on our part, may in fact make all the difference in the life of a person experiencing great confusion, unhappiness, or disappointment; our caring presence can indeed be a “lifeline” to someone in crisis.
If it’s true that (1) the Gospel of Jesus is Good News (and it is), and that (2) Jesus commanded His followers to share the Gospel (and He did), then the logical conclusion is that Christians are called to be a source of strength and assistance to those who are experiencing difficulties or discouragement—and each one of us encounters such opportunities every day.
It’s a wonderful thing if a person who shows up to help or encourage a suffering person at just the right moment is actually an angel in disguise—but, in God’s eyes, it’s every bit as wonderful if we ourselves make a point of reaching out to someone in need.
We’re all given opportunities to be “angels” to someone else—and if we’re willing to touch someone in this manner, God smiles in Heaven over the love His children show to one another here on earth.