Comforting encouragement

Both comfort and encouragement are regularly needed by the human heart, and they work best when operating in synchromesh with each other. Plus, both are able to be conveyed and received in multiple ways, but always best when done with authentic love. Consequently, refreshment at some level, and to some degree, is usually the result. Here we see the compassionate nature of God, who has  designed and equipped believers as agents of His grace.

It seems a contradiction by worldly thinking, that the LORD is able to show His mercies while we are engulfed in the pains of life. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction… (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Instead of only offering comfort to those enjoying the sweet and smooth times of life, God offers comfort during struggles for those suffering. Counter to the culture of our times, the greater our suffering, the greater the availability of meaningful comfort to sustain us. The reservoir of divine comfort is as limitless and as free as God’s mercy, simply waiting for the pained child of God to draw from.

Like Job of the Old Testament, it’s in the extremities of life that we realise more fully our fragile and limited personal resources. Once taken outside of our coping mechanisms, we often find ourselves in that vulnerable place of physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

As it was following salvation, times of refreshing… come from the presence of the Lord… (Acts 3:19-20), so it is during the great difficulties of life, God is the source of refreshment which fuels our endurance. But how does He do this? What are some of the most common methods used by the LORD to transfer His comfort and refreshment to His child engulfed by trials? More often than not, God employs other believers to conduct the transfer.

As Yahweh is the God of endurance and encouragement (Romans 15:5), He uses those redeemed by Jesus Christ to communicate the required encouragement. So Paul commands us to encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Encouragement is to be intentional,  purposeful, and applied to one another in the body of Christ without discrimination as it looks to do it’s work. Since encouragement specifically looks to build up it’s recipients, Paul adds, be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all (1 Thessalonians 5:13-14).

Paul understood that fragile hearts need building up through peaceful relationships that looks to encourage and help with patience. This takes only a little thought to gain some idea of the needs of the recipient. Our listening should not be flippant, dismissive, shallow, or self-serving, as we look to the interests of the other person as our priority (Philippians 2:4). What a spectacular recipe of grace. The fears of the heart which trigger so many internal malfunctions are kindly explored, and love is applied without pretence or force. There is no personal agenda here, only the desire to love on behalf of Christ.

The church of Jesus Christ is well equipped to apply His soothing love to those under the weight of life. A smile, a listening ear, a few minutes of genuine interest, is all it takes to initiate the process. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us, gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. The power of grace accompanied by a few words can have far reaching consequences for good and create opportunity for encouraging comfort.

To be continued…

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