Life-Giving Encouragement: Our God Who Raises the Dead
By Jane Anne Wilson, Guest Writer
Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. -2 Corinthians 1:9 ESV
“This is too hard. I am a widow and my adult children live too far away to just drop by. I’m lonely and I’m angry that God has killed my dreams. We had such plans to enjoy this season of life. Everything seemed to be falling into place and then that phone call, that terrible phone call, telling me that he was gone. Gone, gone where I asked? I tried to shake him awake but I was too late. We served the Lord all our lives and this is how He treats me. My heart hurts. I have no purpose for getting up. Dinner time is the worst time of the day. Lord, help me.”
Get behind the smiles of many people and you’ll hear a story like this one. Sometimes you can see the deadness in their eyes. Life has not turned out as expected. Dreams die in a moment. What hope can I offer? As Paul says in Today’s Treasure, we sometimes feel as though a friend or even we ourselves have received a death sentence. Then Paul declares that when death stands at the door, we are forced to remember that we are not the answer for dying places. Only God, who raises the dead to life, can bring hope and help. But wait, God often calls on us to be the carriers of that help and hope. We won’t be much help, though, unless we rest confidently in what God has done and will do.
Let’s return to Eve for a moment. I think that it is striking to notice that when Eve gives birth to Cain, she declares:
I have brought forth a man with the help of the Lord! -Genesis 4:1
Eve declares herself as the hero of this story, but then she experiences exponential hardship and suffering. Her older son murders her younger son, Abel. Anyone who has children who don’t get along, maybe even hate each other, understands the enormous emotional agony Eve experienced at the hands of her son, Cain. Death took up residence in Eve’s home and most likely in her heart. How could life ever be good again? Yet in Genesis 4:25 we see a change in Eve’s perspective on life when she gives birth to Seth:
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” -Genesis 4:25
Notice the transformation in her thinking. God is the one who gave her the capacity to be a life-giver.
Take a page from Eve’s life. The heart of a life-giver learns that God is the reference point for every detail in life. The answers to all of our questions, including how to offer help and hope to hurting people, how to interact with a wayward child, how to help turn a grieving widow’s heart toward Jesus, and more, all come from Him. The widow at the beginning of this devotional is like Eve, broken-hearted at the death of her dreams, the love of her life. Death creeps around her heart and home, but God is the one who raises the dead to life. She spills out her hurt to God and cries out to Him for help. There is hope for this woman, especially if a friend recognizes the opportunity to be a life-giver to her. Perhaps you are like that widow and you desperately need life-giving encouragement. Start as this widow does, cry out to the Lord, plead with Him to open your eyes to His presence.
Personalize Psalm 23. Write it out in your journal with your name throughout, i.e. “Though I, Jane Anne, walk through the valley of death, the Lord will go with me. I, Jane Anne, will fear no evil…” Ask the Lord to send you an encourager but also ask Him how you can be a life-giving encourager to others as well.
How will you offer life-giving encouragement to a friend today? Pray this prayer:
“Lord, You promise Your friendship to those who fear You, to those who love Jesus and are in awe of the love You have for them. Walk with me as a friend today and alert me to specific ways I can turn a life-taking moment into a life-giving action. Stop me from speaking words that hurt, fill my mouth with life-giving words or stop me from speaking at all.”
Who needs your life-giving love today? Write their name in your journal and write one way you will express love toward them today.
Father, we thank you for Your promise to send the Holy Spirit as our encourager. You are the ultimate Life-Giver and the ultimate Comforter. We pray that as we dig deeper into Your call for us to be life-giving encouragers, we will recognize the Source of all encouragement comes from You and Your love for us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Anne Wilson, wife to David, mother of four children, and grandmother to two grandchildren, presently serves on the women’s ministry leadership team in her local church and is the Northeast Regional Advisor for her denomination’s national women’s ministry team.
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