January 28, 2005
The Making of an Encourager
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
People love encouragers, and God intends that we each be one. An encourager is able to stand beside someone else to give hope and the motivation to persevere through difficult times. We are not born with this ability, but we can follow several essential steps in order to become capable of supporting and empathizing with a hurting friend.
First, we must be willing to experience pain. The apostle Paul, who was a great encourager, said that we reach out to others with the "comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." In order to experience comfort and have it flow through us, we must suffer some heartache. There is power in the touch of a person who has been in the valley. A person who experiences pain does not offer empty words, but hope.
Second, we need to learn the principles that are available to us in our suffering. If we can view our heartache as a class in God's university that will yield us a degree in encouragement, much of the sting will dissipate. The Lord teaches us to place our trust in Him alone, and then we can pass that wisdom on to others.
The most effective encouragers are those who say, "There was nothing I could do but cry out to God. Let me tell you what God did in response to my cry." If we try to escape pain, we will miss out on the principles learned from suffering; then we cannot be useful to others. God builds encouragers from the material of a life willing to be broken.
On Jan. 2, 2005, Dr. Stanley begins a ten-week series entitled "Landmines in the Pathway of the Believer" that identifies and helps you disarm the spiritual landmines in your life. For more information, including television listings and airtimes, visit www.landminesofthebeliever.com.
For more about this topic and many more, be sure to visit the "Exploring the Bible" section of intouch.org. http://www.intouch.org/myintouch/exploring/index_76118.html