“So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 3:7-8 NLT)
Troubles and suffering are common to mankind. No one is immune to natural disasters – hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, freezing temperatures, and many more – plus the stress of daily life in this world gives cause to fear and worry, but also, for those of us who are Jesus followers, heightened sensitivity to the needs of others.
We don’t often stop to think about how much our faithfulness may encourage and bless others. Have you ever been discouraged, but God brings to your remembrance a brother or sister in the Lord who is just so solid in their faith it encourages you to keep moving forward?
There was a man in a church I served who was that kind of person. John was a man after God’s own heart. He was in his 80’s when we met, but his faithfulness and leadership weren’t daunted by his age or physical condition. He served faithfully on the elder board and sang every Sunday he was able. It was my joy as his pastor to sit and listen while he went over his song before the service.
I won’t lie to you, I struggled serving that small church, not because of the people, but because of the oppressive spirits that seemed to fight against us. But listening to John’s beautiful, strong voice as he lifted praises to the Lord he loved with his whole being, encouraged me and nudged me ever closer to the Lord. Hopefully, you have a man like John in your life to lift your spirits and keep you looking heavenward as you face your daily struggles with life.
In one of Ron Hutchcraft’s recent devotions he wrote: “I was touched, too, by the directive given by the rescuers at the leveled Plaza Towers Elementary School. Knowing there were children in that rubble, the first responders asked everyone to just be quiet, ‘So we can listen for voices.’ That’s what I want to be better at; stopping the chatter so I can listen for the voices of people in trouble. They’re all around us, if we have ears to hear their cries. They’ve been buried by one of life’s violent storms. It’s easy to miss them if we’re running so fast we run right by them. God, help me listen for their voices.”
John was a man who “listened for the voices” of those who were under the rubble of life’s attacks, so he could be a voice of encouragement and hope. We need those kinds of people in our lives, but we also need to be those kinds of people. We need to often ask the Lord to sensitize our spirits to those who are crying out around us.
When digging through literal rubble, every step needs to be taken with caution, because a wrong step could mean life or death to someone who is trapped. With no effort to be melodramatic, we need to step lightly in some of our circles of friends. There may be someone “trapped” under the unbearable load of an addiction or oppressive spirit that is choking the life out of their spirit.
Yes, of course, we can be critical and judgmental, after all, “they’re believers and believers shouldn’t act like that.” I once lived in my spiritual “ivory tower,” until Satan’s attack left me vulnerable after I was the one who had miserably failed. How grateful I was and am for people of God who can see through our faults to our needs, and extend a helping hand to lift us up, brush us off, and walk with us on our healing journey.
There’s far too much anger and hostility in the world in which we live. Let us, as friends of the One who loved so much He gave, be ever attentive to the voices of those who are crying out in desperate need of someone to help them up and to patiently and lovingly walk with them through their time of need.
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊