Not in Your Own Strength, Part 2
[Not in your own strength] for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you – energizing and creating in you the power and desire – both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
Philippians 2:13 (Amplified)
Hurting people need encouragement that helps turn their hearts toward Jesus. But they in turn must learn how to offer that same kind of encouragement to their loved ones. The ultimate goal of biblical encouragement is for the encourager to display the very DNA of God that resides in her. The only way she can do that is through running to the Cross, expressing her specific needs and asking the Lord for specific instructions on how to interact with these people she loves so much. Her goal is not to fix the person, though that might be her heart’s desire. Instead, she partners with the Lord with the goal of helping turn hearts toward Him.
Take time today to meditate on the fact of God’s DNA permanently planted in your heart. And revel in the promise that you are not on your own in displaying that DNA. Through time in His Word and prayer, God will continually transform you into the life-giving encourager He calls you to be.
Sometimes it’s hard to spend blocks of time with a broken friend, no matter how much you love her. Her tears, sadness, dark moods, what can sound like heretical questioning of God, her refusal to engage in life or leave her home – all of this can diminish your desire to stay the course of encouraging her heart in the Lord. You feel helpless, frustrated, broken hearted for her but clueless as to how to help. You wish she would just get better, but when you take time to consider the circumstances of her life, you’re not sure you would respond any differently. And yet, staying close is draining. These are the moments to rely on this promise of Scripture. You are weak, but it is in your weakness that the Lord sends treasures to help you stay on track. We don’t go in our own strength. We go because Jesus loves us and we cannot keep that love to ourselves. We pray before we call, text or send a card. We ask the Lord to direct our words, our actions and most of all that He will cultivate a life-giving desire to reflect Jesus, to “become Jesus” for your friend. Though your friend does not respond in the way you hope, you can trust that the Lord is planting seeds of encouragement designed to turn her heart toward Him.
Ask a trusted friend to hold up your arms through prayer as you enter the darkness with your shattered friend. Guard your hurting friend by refusing to reveal private information to your prayer partner. Make this prayer need about your needs. Ask your friend to be willing to shed tears and experience your exhaustion through prayer so that you can go with confidence that the Lord is with you.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the the MARKINC website and listen to the audio resource entitled “Finding Freedom in the Rough Pathways of Life” so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Renee Dixon compares her life as a widow, single mom, and small business owner with mounting bills to climbing a hard, rocky pathway filled with gnarled roots. She describes how she learned to grasp those roots as a means to pull herself along the hard road of life that sometimes felt impossible to travel. Those gnarled roots along the pathway helped shape Renee into a woman whose own determination, endurance and grit encourages the very people she is called to serve.
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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.