October 11, 2012
God’s Circle of Encouragement Part 2
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).
Friend to Friend
When I went through my first major battle with clinical depression, I was amazed at the compassionate people God sent to encourage and comfort me. One of the most precious groups of encouragers was the elders of our church where my husband served as pastor. With my permission, Dan shared what I was going through and asked the elders to pray, which they did. They then put feet to those prayers and came up with what they called the “Rescue Mary Plan” for me.
Our church had five services each weekend and because I was so emotionally frail, I never knew if I could even attend or which service I would be able to attend until I was literally dressed and headed out the door. I called Dan to let him know I was on the way. Dan then relayed the message that I was coming, and the elders went into action. One would meet me at the car and escort me inside. Another would keep an eye on me during the service in case I needed help. Our church auditorium had three main aisles. An elder would walk those aisles before and after the service, watching and waiting. Many times, the elder would press a note of encouragement into my hand as he passed the offering plate. If he sensed I was in trouble or caught in a draining conversation, he would swoop in, take me by the arm and say, “Excuse us, please. Mary is needed elsewhere.” I was then ushered to my car, hugged and told, “We are praying for you. We love you. Go home.” I know. It was amazing! It was not only an important factor in my recovery - but an amazing example of comfort and compassion at work in my life.
Looking back, I realize that many of these men who so freely and faithfully encouraged me had endured great pain in their own lives. They had experienced the compassion and comfort of God and were quick to share it with me. Now that I am on the other side of that pit, I am motivated to encourage others in God’s circle of encouragement.
You have heard the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” Truer words were never spoken when talking about comfort and encouragement. We all need the love and comfort of God - especially during tough times. Those “tough” times can come in all shapes, sizes and forms and can vary from person to person. We have one child who has been known to run an extremely high fever, walk around on a broken foot, and have a headache that would put me in bed … all without a word of complaint. The doctors have always been amazed at this child’s high level of pain tolerance. We have another child who has been known to dissolve into hysterics at the sight of a splinter embedded in a finger and turn ghastly pale and almost faint at the mere antiseptic smell when we walked through the door of the doctor’s office. The doctors have been amazed at this child’s low level of pain tolerance. The difference between these two children does not reflect a right or wrong reaction. It is what it is. When each child is in pain, they each need understanding and comfort.
What about you, girlfriend? Do you long for someone who will offer you just a word of encouragement? Does your broken heart cry out for compassion and comfort? Do you need something for your pain? Come to God. He will be your comfort.
Father, I am amazed at how You love me through others. Your compassion heals and encourages me and is a gift of love from Your heart to my life. Help me receive that gift and then give it away to someone else in need. I want to be Your hands and feet to those who are hurting around me. Give me eyes to see them, Lord. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
· If you need encouragement and compassion, think of two people with whom you can share that need and make a plan to do so.
· Look for people in your life to encourage.
· In your journal, record a recent time when you received and/or gave encouragement. What were the results?
· Write a note of encouragement to someone in need, letting them know you are praying for them. Offer to take care of a specific need such as preparing a meal, dropping by the grocery store to pick up a few items or picking up their cleaning. Many times, people in pain can’t or won’t ask for help. If you see a need, meet it.
· Write a note of thanks to someone who has encouraged you.
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