A patient of mine was
discouraged yesterday, and as I tried to pour out comforting words, I
couldn't help thinking, "poor guy!" You see, I knew his medical history.
I knew there weren't many silver linings to his clouds, many bright
spots to focus on.
Later that evening, someone sent me an email wondering why it was that she never received encouragement, despite the fact that the Bible tells us to: "...comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." (1Thess 5:11, NKJV).
It all made me think, for I, too, often battle discouragement. Now, in my case, it's true that I am very blessed to be the recipient of much encouragement. God always sends me encouragement the moment I need it, and He often uses you, the Nugget readership, to do so, and I thank you for that!
But do I actually receive that encouragement?
I must admit that I am often so wrapped up in whatever is discouraging me that I often don't. When I received the email from the person asking why she never received encouragement even though we are told to encourage one another, I have to admit that I spent a few moments thinking, "It’s because most Christians don't follow this command!"
My spirit wasn't happy with this explanation, however, and as the verse played itself out again in my mind, "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." (1Thess 5:11, NKJV), it occurred to me that it isn't speaking of receiving encouragement at all, but rather, of giving it out! However, instead of following the command of this verse--to encourage others--I generally seek to be the recipient of that comfort.
Could it be that I am so focused on my own problems and my own need of encouragement that I am blinded to the thousands of encouraging words and actions that come my way on a daily basis?
Yet the Bible is clear: "...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35, NKJV)
I am sure we have all experienced times when we, despite the fact that we are facing our own problems, make the effort to do something for someone else: A little word of encouragement here, lending a helping hand there, a smile...
May I ask you, how do those little acts of kindness make you feel?
If you're anything like me, they make you feel very, very good. In fact, they make you forget your own problems...
Could this be why we are not told to look to receive encouragement, but rather, to give it out? Because when we encourage others, it makes our own problems seem small indeed?
Recently someone connected with this ministry wrote in with a testimony. While facing insurmountable problems on all sides, he decided that he would focus on praying for the needs of others. He said that he often felt funny praying for what seemed like such minor things for other people in the face of his own huge problems, but he continued on for several months. Then, he began noticing that one by one and little by little, God was solving each and every one of his own problems...
That is the beauty of it! When we make the encouragement of others to be our priority, not only do our own problems begin to diminish in our own eyes, not only does our own discouragement begin to flee, but God will resolve our own problems as well!
That is the secret to battling discouragement, my friends: Focus on encouraging and comforting others. Why not try it today?
"...comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thess 5:11)
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.