They stood at the foot of the bed, looking at their 19-year-old son. They clung to each other in utter disbelief unable to comprehend what they were seeing. Their only son was unidentifiable. The look of horror on their faces was unforgettable.

John Mark was an EMT in a small town in the middle of nowhere. He and his partner were headed to the scene of an accident when a drunk driver ran a red light and slammed into the passenger side of the vehicle he was driving. On impact, the ambulance flipped over twice and burst into flames.

I was late for work that day. When I got to the hospital I went straight to the vending machine to get myself a can of Tab (soda that tastes like battery acid). I got to the unit I worked on and my head nurse sent me directly over to the burn unit.

B-U-R-N-S…A hard place to be alive, a hard place to die, and a hard place to work.

When I got to the burn unit he was already there. Oh…my…God!

John Mark was burned over 95% of his body. Sadly, I knew how this was going to end.

My stress level started rising. I was the admitting nurse and there were too many people in the room. I wanted everyone to clear out so I could do my job.

I remember thinking, “I wish ‘these people’ would get out of my way.”

“These people” ended up being John Mark’s mother and father.

I realized it too late. I had wounded them, deeply.

Their son was going to die and they needed to be there, and I made them leave the room.

What does a 23-year-old know anyway, about tragedy and loss? In my case, absolutely nothing.

I’m a parent now, the mother of five. Tears flow freely when I think of John Mark’s mom looking at him in that hospital bed.

God has kept this incident alive in my memory to remind me of the importance of loving people well, the way Jesus did.

Can I encourage you to do the same?

Think of the people in your life that are having a rough go of it and life is flat out hard for them…miserable, defeated, discouraged.

What can you do to love them well?

God reminds us in His Word:

-Be kind. Remember, every person you meet is battling their version of pain and suffering.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ Jesus has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

-Choose your words carefully. Don’t try to say something profound. It is rarely helpful.

“Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)

-Don’t judge. Show compassion, comfort, and mercy.

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” (Psalm 103:8)

“He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

-Support and Encourage.

“Share each others burdens…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29)

-Pray. Get out of your comfort zone. Most people who are suffering will allow you to pray for them.

“We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.” (I Thessalonians 1:2)

Love God and love people, the two greatest commandments in the Bible.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~Mother Teresa

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