Life-Giving Encouragement in the Wilderness of Suffering
by Sharon Betters
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15 ESV
In the days after the death of our son, Mark, many people filled our home, looking for ways to help us get through the unending grief. Much of their service appeared mundane: they watered the garden, fed the dog, prepared meals, washed clothes, ironed shirts, answered the phone, or accepted deliveries. Most of their loving deeds went unnoticed by us, but each one kept our home from chaos.
I don’t remember everyone who was there but each act of encouragement was like a love note from the Lord. Many wept as they served. Like the EMTs who perform life-saving mouth to mouth resuscitation, each act breathed life into our death-permeated home.
There was one young man whose relationship to Jesus had just begun. Mark’s death rocked his world. Seeing Chuck, a man he saw as his spiritual father, strong and invincible, crumble under the burden of unending grief shattered him. He later told us he needed to be close, to not only help, but watch as his spiritual father grappled with such agony. He came to our home as often as he could, sat in a chair by the garage door and watched as the Body of Christ wept with us. Little did we know that God was shaping his view of transparent faith, the covenant family and his own response to broken places. While he watched, he did whatever needed to be done, no matter how mundane, weeping as he worked.
God is always doing something more than we can see. Our home became a platform for this young man to “mature” by watching the ones he considered strong crumble before his eyes. He witnessed the miraculous life-giving impact of the covenant family rushing to the wound and shoring up the broken hearts of our family. He saw in weakness a place of supernatural strength when Jesus is the source of all of life. Since then we have watched him display Christ’s love through his own servant’s heart by being the driving force behind the establishment of The Paris Foundation, a non-profit that offers dinner every day, along with a service of help and hope, to the homeless.
Perhaps the call to “weep with those who weep” is the secret to experiencing intimacy with Jesus in a way we won’t experience it otherwise. God promises to give treasures in the darkness, riches stored in secret places so that we will know He is the Lord our God, the One Who calls us by name (Isaiah 45:2-3).
Though traveling into the wilderness with a broken friend is scary, God promises treasures that can only be experienced in such darkness. We will always be grateful for those who journeyed into the Land of Grief with us. There are treasures to be had. This week we’ll peek into that wilderness to discover treasures designed to help turn our hearts toward Jesus.
Treasured by Him,
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
Read and write out Isaiah 45:2-3 in your journal. Consider carefully if there is a friend who needs you to travel into the darkness with her.
Read Chapter 11 in Treasures of Encouragement
Pray for your pastor as he preaches. Make a note of any Scripture verses or statements he shares in his sermon about life-giving encouragement.
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