Blessed be the Lord who daily bears our
burden, the God who is our salvation.
PSALM 68:19 (NASB)
Many books tell us how to help those who hurt, but there is one person who showed us how to help by what He did in His own life. His name is Jesus. Throughout the Gospels — the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible — we can read about how Jesus treated His friends and how He reached out to those who suffered from physical ailments. Much of His life on earth focused on relieving the burden of sin and pain and pointing the way to His Father.
Those of us who would be encouragers need to point the way to our loving, heavenly Father as well. God is the one our suffering friend needs most of all. At times we will fail to meet our friend’s needs. Our human limitations make it impossible for us to always be there when our friend needs us, but God will never fail or forsake our suffering friend. He is the God who has suffered as well as the God of the suffering. Because of the pain, humiliation, loneliness, and rejection, He suffered on our behalf, He knows and understands our suffering.
So the greatest encouragement we can offer is to point our friend to the reality of God’s love. The author C.S. Lewis captures the true essence of encouragement: “When pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
God often uses us to demonstrate His love. He can work through us to be His hands that hold the hands of an anxious friend. He can use our mouths to offer comfort to a pain-wracked heart. He can use our feet to walk through dark valleys with a friend. But all that we do is a mere reflection of His perfect and everlasting love. When we lift our friend’s eyes toward God, who will always be there, we fulfill the highest calling of an encourager.
God chooses carefully those who would bring His message of hope, comfort, and love to His suffering children. If you have been chosen to be God’s hands, mouth, or feet for your friend, God will bless you richly as you let Him teach you His gentle ways and how to walk in His strength. The task may seem far too great for you to bear, but remember, He promised to never leave or forsake you. He will never drop the load that He helps you carry.