Won’t You Please Send a Person?

Today's guest blogger is Suzanne Holland. Suzanne is a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, wife to John, and mom to two grown up boys. She is also a student at Reigning Grace Counseling Center and hopes to become a Certified Biblical Counselor, offering the hope of the Scriptures to those who are hurting.

“Oh, Lord, I know that you are all I need, and that you are enough…But won’t you please send a person?”

That was my prayer this morning, as I woke up to another day of pain. Most days, I am steadfastly determined to trust the Lord in my suffering. Through time in the Word, prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit, most days I have victory over the fear and sadness that come with the pain of a degenerative condition.  But, on other days, when I have become weary of the pain, I give in to fear and I succumb to feelings of sadness. On those days, I feel lonely. Though I know that Christ is sufficient, I long for a pair of eyes, a human voice, and real arms of compassion to show and to tell me that I’m not alone.

Often, on these difficult days, my loving Father does send someone along to encourage and strengthen me, and I am always so grateful and full of praise on those days. But some days, He does not send that person. The day stretches on, and no one calls. I reach out to others who are further along the road of faith and could offer me some encouragement, but no one answers.  I am left alone in my pain, sadness and fear, and I have a choice to make in that struggle. I can choose to dwell on my sad situation and sometimes, because I am weak and human, I do. When that happens, the day gets worse, pain increases, and my family suffers. Or I can choose to glorify God in it and prove Him right in his assertion that His grace is sufficient for me. But, make no mistake, this is a choice. There is no temptation, including self-pity, from which God has not provided a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). Our task is to choose to take it or not.

One thing is guaranteed to draw me out of my funk, and it is generally the thing that I least want to do when I am feeling down: Go find someone who is feeling worse than I am, and encourage them. (I must throw in a caution here that this is not a call to commiserate, but to come alongside.) There is no better way to encourage your own heart than to go out and find a brother or sister who also needs a reminder of God’s love and faithfulness. In order to speak about God’s faithfulness to someone else, you will have to draw on the truth that you know—and you must really know it. When you speak truth into another believer’s aching heart, you must be confident in that truth. You must really mean it, and be prepared to convince your friend. There can be no half-hearted assertion that God’s grace is sufficient when it comes to encouraging someone else. To be convincing, you must have evidence from your own life that it is true. You know how hard it is to speak truth to yourself, and to believe that truth when life is crushing you. So, before you go to encourage this person, you have to read, pray, and recall to your mind the many times that God has been faithful to you, even when you were faithless. By the time you have done all this, you will be unable to believe your own self-pity self-talk. You will see the holes in your own spiritual armor, and you will see how the enemy’s native tongue has been at work in your thoughts. If you do these things, your heart will overflow with gratitude that you can pour right onto your friend’s struggle. The two of you, by the power of the Spirit of God, will face the battle together.

God sends needy people into our lives all the time. We ought to be looking out for those needs and opportunities to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). Tune up your compassion radar, and you will begin to find many occasions to strengthen and encourage other believers in their faith.

This morning, I made the choice to take my own advice and go looking for someone who needed encouragement. I did my usual morning Bible study, and asked the Lord to lead me to someone in need.  As I got ready for the day, my phone rang. It was a friend who also deals with chronic pain, and often suffers from anxiety and fear about it. She was feeling lonely, and having trouble getting her mind off the pain. This particular friend is unable to drive, and so she spends much of her time alone. She is also a woman of great faith who has been through many trials, and has often helped me with mine. She is one of those “further along” sisters who often has reached back to me as I’ve struggled along the road of sanctification. Today, though, it was my turn to encourage her. I took my aching self and went to her home where we prayed, studied scripture, and put to death our self-pity and fear.

This brings me back around to those two eyes, that human voice, and those arms of compassion I was so longing for earlier. But now, this is not a self-focused longing of my own. This is the answer to my prayer. This is the Lord working in the life of another believer through my pain. These are my eyes, my voice, and my arms of compassion, reaching out to a hurting child of God. Only our perfect Father could orchestrate such an outcome! This is God’s strength made perfect in weakness. My cry to Him for help has been answered. Perhaps my friend prayed this same prayer this morning, even as I was pleading with our Father. God knew our need, and responded in love and mercy by bringing us together. The Lord truly does draw near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), but He also draws the brokenhearted near to one other. As my friend and I began to share, pray, and read together, we remembered the command of Scripture to comfort one another with the comfort we each have received (2 Corinthians 1:4). What a blessing to watch the Word of God demonstrated in our lives!