Who do you know who is in crisis, who is hurting, who is walking through life having come undone in some way? There are few gifts we can give that are more significant than that of simple encouragement. It costs us nothing except our time and willingness to hurt with those who hurt and it mirrors the character of God who will never leave us or forsake us: who constantly encourages and brings comfort to the hurting. He is called "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Encouragement is not making things OK. Usually we cannot do that. It is coming alongside the hurting, praying for them, staying in touch, giving or sending words of healing and comfort and just being there for them. It is listening and entering into their pain. The word compassion actually comes from a Latin word that means "co-suffering." When we suffer Jesus suffers for us and with us. We can give the same gift to others.

Interestingly, Paul also says that God's comfort to us is designed to spill over to our comfort to others. "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 so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows" (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

God's comfort to us is intended to overflow to others - but that takes the attitude of Christ who selflessly comes alongside the hurting. There is a price: it is the price of entering into the hurt of others and co-suffering with them. But it is one of the greatest gifts we can give. When we encourage, we become Jesus to others. And, the more we encourage, the more our hearts become like the heart of Christ.
  • Jul 30, 2011
  • Category: News
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