The Gift of Encouragement… 4
“That I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary” (Isaiah 50:4).
Have you ever needed a good shoulder to lean on? The load weighed heavy, your spirits sank low, and you felt uncertain if you could carry on. Discouragement settled over you. Then, someone came along with just the right words-or perhaps just a hug and a smile-to lift you up. The problem did not magically melt away, but your steps felt lighter and you knew you could carry on because someone cared.
Being that source of encouragement is a wonderful gift you can give others. A self-absorbed person cannot do it, for he is too focused on his own needs to observe anyone else’s. To be an encourager requires looking out, not in. It also means not playing the game of “I’ve had it worse than you” with a long litany of how and why. Neither is an encourager the breezy, backslapper who mouths insincere assurances of “things will get better” and “I’ll be praying for you,” never to give the hurting one another thought in the days ahead.
Galatians 6:2 instructs us to “bear ye one another’s burdens.” When we help carry the load, putting part of it on our own shoulders, we display true compassion and sympathy. Hebrews 13:3 phrases it another way: “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” A true encourager shares the pain as if he were the one in trouble.
Many times we shy away from reaching out to others because we “just don’t know what to say.” Our words aren’t nearly as important as just being there. Knowing someone cares is a mighty force in helping us to hold on to our faith in dark times.
Being an encourager places restrictions on us. It required that we not betray that person’s trust. It does not entitle us to be privy to every detail of the situation, nor does it allow us to share confidential information with others under the guise of having them help us pray. Our objective is to help carry the load, not increase the burden through careless or embarrassing talk.
Paul had two notable encouragers in his life. The first helped when he was a new convert. Despite his miraculous conversion, not everyone readily accepted the former persecutor. Barnabus, the son of consolation, spoke in his defense to the disciples (Acts 9:26-27). Years later, as a prisoner in Rome and near the end of his ministry, Onesiphorus was his encourager. Paul tells of his care in II Timothy 1:16-18. “He oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain…he sought me out very diligently, and found me…and in how many things he ministered unto me.”
These verses give a beautiful picture of how to minister to others. Our words and actions can refresh the weary soul. Despite the complexity of the situation, we must be willing to step in unashamed to help in a trying time. The hurting one may be embarrassed to ask for help, so we seek him out. Last, we remain available to minister as long as there is a need.
Would you like to give the gift of encouragement? Ask God to lead you to someone who needs an encouraging friend. They may be dealing with a wayward child, a financial crisis, a troubled marriage, a grave illness, or a dark night of the soul.
Solomon in his wisdom told us, “Woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). You can be the one to reach out so that one is not alone.
(From: SISTERS email@example.com via ladiesministries Newsletter)