42 days! 42 days of sweltering summer heat, sizzling temperatures, and oppressive humidity and without a drop of rain. None in the forecast. None on the horizon. Then boom! As a complete surprise, during the night while we slept and when summer thunderstorms are supposed to die down, clouds piled up and showers began to fall. No, it wasn't a gully washer or frog strangler, but it was sweet welcome relief to hear the boom of thunder, the patter of rain on the roof, and feel the cool downbursts of a morning rain. Ah! Sweet gracious relief.

The pace of life, the demands of work, the concerns of family, and the pain of losses can pile up and have a withering emotional impact on the soul. The lack of courtesy and simple kindness in our world makes this trip through the parched land of soul-drought unbearably withering. All around us are people who need sweet gracious relief. Unfortunately, most never receive it. None in the forecast. None on the horizon. These weary souls plod on, waiting for their fortunes to change, their grief to dissipate, their exhaustion to pass, and their disappointments to fade.

That's where the "anapsookho" solution becomes such a blessing. You are probably not familiar with the "anapsookho" solution. No, it's not some new imported pillow, massage device, exercise program, or herbal remedy from the orient. No, this gift of sweet gracious relief was demonstrated by an early Christian family you probably don't remember and with a name hard to pronounce. I'm talking about the household of Onesiphorus.

Onesiphorus, unlike most others who abandoned Paul in his first imprisonment, went to Rome, searched for Paul, found him in prison, and ministered to him in his time of need (2 Timothy 1:16-18) He was willing to risk being identified with a man who might be sentenced to die because that man was his brother in Christ. But more than just the effort of Onesiphorus, his whole family joined in the ministry! Paul describes their ministry with the word "anapsookho," one of the two key words in the New Testament to describe refreshing someone's spirit. The other word, anapowoe focuses more on calming someone and letting them rest to be refreshed. While this is a wonderful blessing, Onesiphorus' word is "anapsookho." Onesiphorus' word means to cool off and help someone recover from the effects of heat, to breathe in fresh, cool air. Sweet gracious relief!

All around us are people who live in the parched and dry land of soul-drought. More than needing a lecture or a book or a sermon, they need friends like Onesiphorus and his household. They need sweet gracious relief. They need the "anapsookho" solution. That's where we come in! We are the community of Christ, the friends of the Savior. We're the folks who share a little kindness with a person needing relief. We go the extra mile to track them down, seeking to bless them in their time of sorrow, struggle, need, or pain. We know that a little loving refreshment is often the difference between a long withering time in soul-drought and finding the strength to go on through difficult times.

It's not some new imported pillow!
How important is the "anapsookho" solution? Jesus gave us a pretty good hint about its importance when he said:

"If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42)

Ah! Sweet gracious relief! The gift of refreshment for the recipient and the blessing of forever for the giver.