Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Blessing of Encouragement

   Romans 15:5-6  "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

         We all face trials in this journey called life.  We were not called or ever meant to suffer through it alone.  We  are commanded to 'love one another' and that includes encouragement.  When we are in the midst of a trial, Satan looks for a foothold to bring upon us depression, doubts, fear and blame.  God, on the other side, wants to use our trials to build our character, faith and dependence on Him.  We can each use our own personal experiences to help build each other up from falling into those tempting low points.

          I have been blessed recently by a world-wide support group of family and friends, near and far through my kidney stone trial.  Encouragement comes in many forms and the variety has blessed my heart, mind and soul.  The prayer support has been phenomenal and if a prayer for me opens a conversation between someone and God, then it reassures my belief in that there's purpose in the pain.  To God be the Glory!  Encouragement came in a jar filled with notes and verses for each day to remind me that I wasn't alone.  Encouragement came through visits, not just for me but my parents too.  Encouragement came through messages by both snail mail, phone calls and social media.  I was not only encouraged spiritually, but in humanity.   God is alive and working in the lives and hearts of others, as well as my own.
          Another great encouragement to me was my friend, Lisa Jones, sharing her journal study notes on suffering and trials with me.  She has graciously allowed me to share this with you here on my blog...

 The Bible  Says This About Suffering

1.       Suffering silences Satan (Job 1-2)
2.       Suffering gives God an opportunity to be glorified (John 11:4)
3.       Suffering makes us more like Christ (Phil. 3:10, Heb. 2:10)
4.       Suffering makes us appreciative (Romans 8:28)
5.       Suffering teaches us to depend on God (Ex. 14:13-14, Isa. 40: 28-31)
6.       Suffering enables us to exercise our faith (Job 23:10, Romans 8:24-25)
7.       Suffering teaches us patience (Romans 5:3, James 1:2-4)
8.       Suffering makes us sympathetic (II Cor. 1:3-6)
9.       Suffering makes and keeps us humble (II Cor. 12:7-10)
10.   Suffering brings rewards (II Tim. 2:12, I Peter 4: 12-13)

 Suffering People in the Bible

1.       Job (Job 1-42) Job had greater knowledge of God and understanding of self.

2.       Miriam (Exodus 15:20-21; Numbers 12:26:59)  Got leprosy from God as a chastisement for rebellion.  She repented and was healed and restored.  She learned that God  sometimes uses suffering to chasten His disobedient children.

3.      Ezekiel’s wife (Ezekiel 24: 15-27) She was the wife of a major prophet. She had an illness that resulted in death.  Source from God to illustrate God’s dealings with the nation of Israel.  The result was that God was glorified, and that God sometimes uses suffering and even death to accomplish His purpose.

4.       Mephibasheth (II Samuel 4:4; 9:1-13)  Young grandson of King Saul, he was crippled through a fall.  Source and reason not given.  It resulted in a lifetime of affliction with no cure.  The lesson is that God doesn’t always tell us the reason for our suffering.

5.        Paul (II Cor. 12:1-10) A great apostle to the gentiles who had a “thorn in the flesh”.  Implied that it was a gift from God.  The reason was to keep Paul from exalting himself because of his unique spiritual experiences.  It became a blessing because it increased his dependence on the Lord.  The lesson is that God doesn't always bring temporary healing, even to the most devoted children.

May our trials help us to be more compassionate with others, more aware of God's presence and work in our lives, and develop a greater dependence on God than ourselves,