Comforting and Encouraging Others

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 TLB

After my father’s death, I uncovered an ancient cardboard box wedged in the back of his closet. Inside were some remnants of his military service during World War II: a good conduct medal, his wings, war department ID, aircraft spotters’ guide, a 1943 Christmas menu from headquarters in Fortaleza, Brazil where he was stationed for a time, and the letter notifying my grandparents that my father was a prisoner of war.

In a daring endeavor, my father eventually escaped captivity through the Underground. When he returned to America, he didn’t talk much about his experiences. One of his brothers told me that Daddy often sat in front of the radio in those days, head bowed and arms on his knees, listening. If someone entered the room unexpectedly, daddy jumped, wary, eyeing the intruder with suspicion.

Today, my father’s post-war reactions would likely be labeled post-traumatic stress, but there was no name or counseling for it then. Daddy packed his emotional pain in a mental compartment and shoved it to the back of his mind, in a similar fashion to the back-of-the-closet cardboard box housing the history of his military service.

Decades later, my cousin was accepted at the US Air Force Academy. The summer before his freshman year, my father bought Wesley a pair of military dress shoes, took him out to our driveway, and taught him to march.

“I want him to be a step ahead of the other boys,” Daddy said.

My father also hauled out war stories, dusted them off, and told him about his experiences. Much of what he said had never been shared with others. He identified with some of the challenges Wesley faced in the coming four years, and hoped to help him in his adjustment to military life.

Often, when we go through difficult life situations, we swallow the hurt and consign the pain to a private corner of our minds and hearts. Some stagnate in grief, withdrawing from those around them, never discussing their challenges, or moving beyond the pain. Others find a way forward, with God’s help, yet never encourage others dealing with similar situations.

But 2 Corinthians 1:4 reminds us that we are to minister to those around us with the same comfort we’ve received from God. My father didn’t share his experiences until my cousin embarked on a similar journey.

Perhaps someone you know is struggling. Although the situation might not be identical to yours, your wisdom and encouragement may be of great benefit. Dredging up memories may feel uncomfortable, but despite the emotional pain, be available to support someone marching down a difficult path. By listening and encouraging, you pass on the comfort you found through Scripture, prayer, and a deeper relationship with God forged through hardship.

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Comforting and Encouraging Others – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: Has anyone ever encouraged you with their experience of God’s faithfulness?

Wrong Number

by Charlotte Adelsperger

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”  Psalm 16:18 (NIV)

I prayed about ways I might encourage a friend who was facing perplexing medical needs. When I met with her, I listened as she shared her journey. When it was time to leave, I gave her a bookmark with Psalm 16:18 on it. Then my cell phone rang.  The area code was from another city. I almost didn’t answer. But I did.

“Oh, I have the wrong number!” the woman said. I asked what number she was calling. In an urgent voice, she told me she was trying to find a motel near a medical center in Kansas City.  I was familiar with that hospital, because I lived in the area.

“Is there a medical need?” I asked.

“Yes, my sister is very sick,” she said with a tremble in her voice.  “She needs a liver transplant as soon as possible. I’m coming from out-of-town to be with her.”

I felt inadequate to help this woman find a motel. But I told her I was a Christian and I would pray right away for her sister. Then I asked for her sister’s name. “It’s Heidi and she’s only 39. We need all the prayers we can get! I think I dialed an angel– to get you.”

I chuckled. “I’m not an angel, but you can count on me to pray for Heidi and for you. May I check on you later to see how things are going?” She gave me her name—Kathy, and told me I could text her.

When I got home, it dawned on me that God had given me a verse to share with my friend, but that same verse was also just right for Kathy! I hesitated to intrude by contacting her, so I prayed to do the right thing.

An hour later I texted her: “From Charlotte—talked to you on phone. Bible verse: “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” Psalm 16: 18.”

Within minutes a text came back: “Thank you for the verse!  Heidi is critical now—we might lose her. She has young children back home. Keep praying!”

I did just that, and over the next few days I kept in touch with Kathy. She shared one crisis after another. Then 10 days later, Heidi underwent a successful liver transplant! It was miraculous, and we praised God together.

Thinking over this experience, I think God allows us the privilege to be at the right place at the right time. He wants us full of His love and ready to be used by Him in the lives of others.  But I can sometimes miss the opportunity, because I’m so absorbed in my own life.

What can we do to be more available to be used by God? I think deepening our relationship with Him will enable us to hear Him more readily. As we start each day, we should ask Him specifically to draw us into His purposes. Express our desire to be used for His glory. And as we take the living Word of God with us in our hearts—or even on a bookmark—we never know what blessings may come!

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10 NASB

Charlotte AdelspergerAbout the author: Charlotte Adelsperger is an author and speaker from Overland Park, Kansas where she lives with her husband Bob. She has written four books and material for more than 200 publications. Charlotte writes for both adults and children. Her credits include Cricket magazine for children and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse & Clubhouse Jr. Most recent is her picture book, Amazing Miracles of Jesus, (Tyndale). Charlotte specializes in women’s groups. She enjoys hiking as well as walking/jogging in 5K races. Charlotte can be reached through the AWSA website and through Facebook.