I am blessed. I have a wonderful friend. I haven’t seen her in years, but we keep in touch through the wonder of technology, and occasional snail mail, and she makes it a point to let me know when she hears of me doing ministry - often when it’s something I don’t think of as ministry. Those little kudos mean so much to me - the encouragement, not the praise. It’s the shot in the arm I need when I wonder if what I’m doing really makes a difference.
I think back to the story of Abraham. when he was 99 years old and God told him “I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5). I don’t write about Abraham’s doubt, I write about the fact he wouldn’t live to see it come true. We often do or say things that are exceedingly helpful, but we don’t see the fruits of those words or actions. But we need to say and do them.
I have a divorce in my background. Brad and I will celebrate 39 years of marriage in October, but I was married once before. My ex-husband and I are very good friends, and he is part of our family. But we weren’t good spouses. I shared that fact with a woman in the church in Bishop many years ago, just an idle conversation. Several years later, when her husband left her, she told me how much it helped her that I had told her about my divorce. I had absolutely no idea those were the words that would help someone. I like to think it’s the sermons I learned to craft so carefully, the thoughts I share with you each week, the prayers I’ve shared in hospital rooms and sanctuaries, but it was a story about my shortcomings.
Everyone needs encouragement. Everyone needs a cheerleader. I tutor children in a combined first and second grade classroom who need help with reading and math skills. One of my pupils is a child who clearly doesn’t receive much attention at home. When I complimented her on something, I said “But of course you’ve heard that before.” In all honesty she replied, “No, I haven’t.” The compliment was over something so small I can’t remember it, but the fact she’d never heard it before was a shocker. This is a child who needs affirmation to take that scared, anxious look off her face. I pray that as she grows older she will become confident and successful, and remember that her teacher and tutor believed in her. I have only another month or so to do the best I can.
There are so many lonely people, so many people shut away, isolated, fearful, perhaps unable to communicate. This is the season of rebirth and rejoicing in the risen Christ. This is the time He walked on the earth, showing himself to his disciples and preparing them for the great commission. Let us prepare ourselves to do the same.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Dear Father/Mother God, Help us remember we are all your children, and we all need encouragement. Help us to be that person to someone who is feeling lost or overwhelmed, knowing that we might never see the fruits of our actions and words. Thank you for the brave people who step out in our behalf each day, advocating for those of us who need their stamina and determination. We are blessed. Amen.