I have a friend who is going through a tough time right now. It is not easy to encourage her even though I have been through some pretty tough times myself. I understand why some of my friends shied away from me during some of my tough times but I always knew that they were praying for me. I am praying for my friend as well and I am trying to encourage her also. Distance of miles is between us but we are sisters in Christ and so I love her and pray for her daily. I want to encourage you too if you are having a rough time of it.
Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. Ecclesiastes 7:13-14, (New International Version or NIV).
God is in charge of our lives and we will have good times and we will also have bad times. Everyone, whether a Christian or not will have both good and bad times in life because we live in a fallen world where good and evil co-exist. What we Christians need to understand and take courage and strength from is the fact that God is in charge of everything that happens to us. There are no surprises to God about us and when we have good times we are to praise God for the happiness we are experiencing. And likewise, when we are going through a tough time we are also to give God the glory and praise Him for giving us the strength to survive and hopefully thrive a little as well. No one except God knows what the future holds for us not psychics, not soothsayers, not horoscopes, not evangelists, not anyone except God! I have found in my life that God is great at keeping me in the dark as to my future and I bet some of you can relate to that! So how can we encourage one another during those tough times that inevitably come to us? Love is a great place to start.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21, (NIV).
Genuine love and caring and compassion is always appreciated by others. Encouraging others to hate the evil but cling to the good is always important. I try to hang on to the good memories and let the bad ones go, I try to look past the bad I see in others and celebrate the good. For my friend right now I need to remind her that she can be patient in her time of trouble and to be hopeful as she waits and to know that she is not alone in her fight. I need to be faithful in praying for her and her family. I also need to rejoice with her whether she receives good or bad news. Sometimes there is complete healing and restoration and sometimes there is not but either way I can be prepared to rejoice with her. Joy is a choice. I will need to encourage her to accept what God chooses for her life, for her family in the future and help her to not be bitter, rather to pray for her situation. In the end of this situation I can encourage my friend to not be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good.
Divorce is evil, cancer is evil, depression is evil, consequences from bad choices in the past is evil, and all of these can get us down and try to keep us down. Satan wants us to be down like a downed computer but God can give us peace and joy and build us up so that our story becomes a blessing to others! Our struggles that we overcome can be the object lesson someone else needed to see played out on the stage of life! So I can encourage my friend to hang in there because there is purpose to her suffering and God knows the ending of her situation.
Another aspect to our suffering is brought out in this passage from Romans as well, notice a short sentence…Live in harmony with one another. I love music and there is nothing more beautiful than to hear harmony being played or sung. My son is learning the piano and when he gets a note wrong it sounds so horrible because it is disharmony in action. But when he gets the notes correct oh how beautiful is the harmony. Harmony is not the tune though; it is the counter tune that is supportive of the tune in music. It is what makes the piece being played or sung have depth. When we are living in harmony with one another we are the supportive counter melody that brings depth to that person’s life and makes their life and ours so much more enjoyable. I need to be the support for my friend and her family. She is fortunate to have many people harmonizing in her life right now and I am thankful she has such support. The more harmony the more beautiful the praise to God!
The Apostle Paul tells us to not be proud, don’t be so proud that you can’t or won’t live in harmony with others. Pride is an insidious sin and so prevalent in our age. Remember that we are where we are in life because God put us there and not because of our own achievements. God gave the opportunities and we profited from them. The glory goes back to God and not self!
Conceit is a cousin of pride and not what we are to be about. Some people are so vain and conceited that they can’t notice my sister in Christ and what she and her family are going through right now. We need to be sure that we are not that type of person because conceit is a sin just as pride is a sin.
There is nothing like illness to strip a lot of sin out of our lives. When you are in a hospital undergoing treatment the first thing to go is pride I think. I remember the hospital gown, the lack of privacy, the constant interruptions for medicine, drawing blood, talking to doctors, changing of IV’s, and so forth. I often felt like an old tractor in for an oil change and a lube job! But during these times of illness I drew closer to God than ever before in my life probably because pride and conceit was stripped from me and I was more pliable to God’s teaching than before. I can encourage my friend of this as well. She will change for the better because God is at work in her and in her family and circle of influence. Praise God!
Hang in there dear sister in Christ, God is walking with you, before you and beside you. Hang in there those who are struggling right now. Hang in there because there is purpose to the affliction. Hang in there because you are a witness to the godless and a walking testimony. Hang in there when you are tired. Hang in there when you feel weak. Hang in there when you feel depressed. God is at work in you and He never rushes things. You are not alone.
Until next time…Katherine