This post is part of the series His Encouragement
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Welcome! Welcome, dearest friends, to His Encouragement: Biblical Inspiration for Your Thursday. Every Thursday, a few blogging friends and I will each bring you a Bible passage and a little hope-filled discussion. We pray that these Thursday posts help you end your week strong in God’s love and purpose for you.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
I admit it.
In the last two months, I have had more grumpy days and days where I lost my temper than probably the last five years combined. Grief, stress, anxiety, vehicle trouble, and sickness have attacked like the bombings you see in those old, black and white WWII reels: hundreds of bombs dropped one after another with no end in sight. There have been days where things could not have gotten any worse — until they did.
I have broken down and cried many times since September.
I never stopped praying and finding life-restoring morsels from the Word of God. But I worried that I was becoming a person that I no longer recognized: unhappy, tired, and without joy. My patience was gone and there seemed to be an anger simmering just below the surface, ready to boil over at the slightest provocation. It was as if I had slipped down into a dark valley and I was fumbling in the abyss, struggling to climb and yet always falling back down.
Friend, perhaps you have found yourself in a dark valley as well. Circumstances beyond your control are weighing heavily upon you. It is just one thing after another, and you cry out to the Lord: “Please help! Save me! I cannot go on like this! I need help!”
Do not despair! One of the most powerful yet subtle ways that the Lord moves in our lives is through other people. Today’s verse is from 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and reads: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
A week ago, we had one of the worse days ever. We had to turn in the keys to our former rental by 5pm local time, we had a few large furniture items to take to a thrift store, we had to finish cleaning, and had a bill due. I was feeling horrible that I had to work (because I had taken time off earlier in the week when I was sick with a horrible stomach virus) and so everything fell to my husband and father to finish.
Then I got a call. My husband’s vehicle died on the highway. Praise the Lord! His guardian angels had protected them (our little boys were with him) and guided the vehicle across four lines of high-speed lunch hour traffic without getting hit. I was still shaken. I left the office and walked the mile to my car (because, of course, road construction had put the buses on a temporary detour route just for that exact day and time).
I was crying and praying because we had four hours before the keys had to be turned in. I had been horribly sick all week and had not been able to keep any food down, which meant I was going on four days without any food and barely any water. If there is a state of being that is overwhelmed times a million, that is where I was at that moment.
By the time I got to the car, I felt the Lord gently prodding me: “Ask for help.” I wanted to say: “But Lord, I have asked for help! And who could help on such short notice anyway? On a Friday afternoon, no less?” But I did not. I swallowed my pride and obediently sent a desperate SOS to my family and friends via Facebook. “Please, Lord!” I prayed. “If we could get just one person to help! Please, Lord. Send one person.”
A few minutes after arriving to pick up my husband and the boys from the broken down vehicle, I received a phone call from a lovely friend from church that made me cry even more. “Hi! We can help!” She said. “Just tell me the address.” And true to her word, she and her husband arrived at the old house with cleaning supplies and took on the tedious task of cleaning the blinds. Turns out, they had taken the afternoon off to help decorate our church for Christmas but she saw my SOS and decided that is where the Lord was sending them instead.
A short time later, one of my husband’s longtime friends arrived unexpectedly with delicious food paid for by another long-time friend who lives out of state! (And the first food I could keep down in days!) With everyone’s help, we were able to finish the last minute things IN SPITE OF Satan’s attempt to derail us with unexpected vehicle trouble and we turned in the keys by 4:15pm and even managed to pay the bill that was due before 5pm.
In one of our most difficult moments, I prayed for the Lord to send one person to help. True to His amazing and merciful ways, He sent four instead.
And if that was not a good enough display of how the Lord often moves through fellow people, something that happened yesterday blew me away. I was praying hard yesterday while at work (and still recovering from a headcold). I was telling the Lord that I wanted to be the happy person I used to be, that I did not like the grumpy Jacquelyn that I had become, and I was asking Him to help me find joy — His joy — again. How could I be a good witness for Him if I was like this? I felt like a failure, an imposter, a broken vessel.
That is when the Lord brought me the exact encouragement I needed through my co-worker. She shared with me about an in-house client that she was working on a large project with, that the project was taking far too long, that they were needlessly repeating work, and that she was getting very frustrated with the client. They had a face-to-face meeting the day before (while I was out sick), and my co-worker said: “She was frustrated. I was frustrated. And then I thought: what would Jacquelyn do? So I channeled Jacquelyn!”
Her words were so humbling and yet the Lord knew that was exactly what I needed to hear. As Christians, we often see the worst in ourselves. We know what we are struggling with. We know the thoughts that we think. We know the areas of our lives where the Lord is still working. Yet we may not always see how those around us — our family, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, anyone within our sphere of influence — see us. While I see myself lately as grieving, grumpy, short-tempered, and miserable my co-worker saw someone who was kind, thoughtful, patient, and diplomatic even when grieving the loss of a dear family member, even with the stress of moving, even with getting sick twice in the span of a week, even with vehicle challenges that drain the emergency fund. And she asked for my advice on how to interact in a positive, polite, yet firm way with the client.
On the drive home last night, I thanked the Lord for reminding me that: Yes, I am woefully imperfect. Yes, I fail all the time. Yes, I have emotions — BIG emotions. Yes, sometimes my circumstances seem dark and overwhelming. But the Lord never leaves me to struggle through it alone. He is always here, He is always guiding, He is always helping.
Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, ESV) Sometimes what we receive may not look how we expect or come from where we expect, but the Lord in His wisdom always will give us what we need, when we need it.
And sometimes He uses the people around us to make it happen.
This month of December, as we spend time contemplating and celebrating the first coming of Jesus, let us each ask the Lord how we can be His hands and His feet to those around us who may be struggling. You never know how that one kind word or kind action affects others. It could be the very thing that helps them hold on.
Let us encourage one another and build each other up!
Be sure to also visit my fellow bloggers and read their encouragement for your Thursday as well:
- Trisha of Joy of Reading
- Nicole of The Christian Fiction Girl
- Jessica of A Baker’s Perspective
- Becca of The Becca Files
- Jenny Lynn
- Gina of Stories by Gina
- Rev. Rebecca Writes
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