Discouragement often knocks on the door of the lonely, sick and elderly. For decades Hope interceded for her family, church and community. Through her strong witness many came to Christ. Now Hope sits alone in her living room lamenting that her life is unfruitful. Poor health and several falls prevent her from attending church. Few from the congregation call. “I don’t know why the Lord doesn’t take me home. I’m no good to Him any more,” she says.
Encouraging the Hopes of the world is a significant part of our work for God. The first gift we can offer them is an empathetic ear. They often need to unload their negative feelings. Sometimes the simple act of expressing their thoughts lightens their darkness. Being a kind non-judgmental listener is an offering believers can give one another. In her prime, Hope prayed for, called and visited many. “Now I’m alone and everyone has forgotten me,” she says. An exaggeration, but she may realize that later.
Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.(Gal. 6:2)
After listening, raise the focus upwards by reminding the person of their royal position – “God has raised them up with Christ and seated them with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6
Tell of His unconditional affection and the promise of His continual presence. Read scripture and pray together. Allow a spiritual bond to develop. This restores the person’s sense of belonging to the body of Christ. Paul expressed this in Romans 1:11, 12 –
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Even God’s heroes become discouraged. Elijah, a miracle man, was so miserable he wanted to die. An angel came, cooked him a nourishing meal and told him to lie down and rest. What kindness the angel showed the depressed prophet.
The angel’s actions demonstrate the practical side of being an encourager. Simple acts of kindness sooth despairing souls and remind them they’re loved. It’s only human to grow old, tired, hungry and lonely.
James wrote of Elijah, “He was a man just like us.” Christians often don’t allow for human weakness. We consider the high points of our faith journey and believe we should always live on those mountain tops. Some may even believe that becoming disheartened, discouraged or depressed is a sin. An encourager dispels that myth.
Prayer: Make me a blessing to someone today, Lord. Fill my mouth with words of encouragement.
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of four books, including, Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children and One Good Word Makes all the Difference. Visit her blogs, Listening to my Hair Grow and Promises of Home. Her books are available at http://writingfromtheheart.webs.com