Monday, 16 March 2009

Be an Encourager


Be an Encourager
March 16, 2009

By Rose McCormick Brandon

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 don¹t know why the Lord doesn¹t take me home," she says. "I'm no good to
Him any more."

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 painful feelings. Sometimes the simple act of expressing
their thoughts lightens their darkness. Being a kind, nonjudgmental 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.

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the
law of
Christ
" (Galatians 6:2, NIV).

After listening, raise the focus upwards by reminding the person of their
royal position.

"God raised us up with Christ and seated us 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 (1 Kings 19:1-8). 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" (James 5:17).

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
mountaintops. Some may even believe that becoming disheartened, discouraged
or depressed is a sin.  An encourager dispels that myth.

Could someone you know benefit from an uplifting visit, phone call or letter
from you today?
‹ Rose McCormick Brandon writes personal experience essays, Bible studies,
news articles, profiles and devotionals from her home in Sault Ste. Marie,
Canada.