COMFORTING AND ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER
Life is difficult. Most of us know this only too well. It is a given that broken people (which we all are) living in an imperfect world (which this is) will face headaches, heart aches, and hassles throughout the course of their life. That invariably means we all need help; we all need comfort and encouragement.
Stress is in all of our lives. There is pressure from all sides. Relationships, finances, health, how do we get any relief? Where can we go to get help? Paul knew. He wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3). God is compassionate and He puts His compassion into action by comforting us. More than that, God orchestrates many of His followers to comfort us as well. That is His plan. When we are comforted by His grace and mercy, God wants us to go and comfort others that He brings our way. We are to comfort others in the same way we were helped. But somehow we have forgotten this. Somehow the church has traded our role from hospital, shelter and sanctuary for a country club? We pray for each other, we encourage each other, God brings us comfort but we don’t take the same comfort to the world.
It is clear from Scripture that encouragement is highly valued and celebrated by God. In Hebrews, we are told to "encourage one another to love and good deeds." In his letters to Timothy and Titus, Paul repeatedly writes not only to encourage them, but also to encourage them to encourage others. Leaders are told to encourage those under their charge. Parents are told to encourage their children. Special mention is made of the need to encourage leaders and also those who are timid. And beyond that, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is a ministry of encouragement.
TIPS ON COMFORTING OTHERS
1. Be a comforter. Remember a comforter is a person called along side of another to provide encouragement. Many times all a person needs is your presence…..simply being there an arm around the shoulder, a hug, without even saying a word. A good rule of thumb, if you don’t know what to say, say nothing.
2. Be conscious. In other words, be aware of what is going on. Have a sick friend who needs chores done? Do them. Do you have a friend struggling financially? Help them out. Do you know of a friend struggling spiritually? Reach out to them. Do you see friends with relationship problems? Help them out or pray for them. Do not gossip about them!!! Be conscious and God will show you practical things you can do.
3. Be cautious. Sometimes helping isn’t helping. Be mindful of what you say, when you say it and how you say it. Remember if you have nothing to say, keep quiet!!!
4. Be committed. Overcoming problems and troubles is a process not an event. Recovery goes through stages. There are gains and setbacks. People in trouble need us to be there for them and to go the distance. And if you make the commitment to pray for the hurting person, KEEP YOUR WORD! Be committed.