by Sharon Betters
The day after surgery for breast cancer I sat on the edge of the hospital bed, looking out over a brilliantly sunny July day. I had cancer but did not know how far it had progressed. I was thirty-nine years old with four children to raise. Our youngest, Mark, was ten years old. Fearful thoughts raced through my soul. Would I survive? Would Chuck be a widower, our children motherless? In those frightening moments, God reminded me of a verse memorized in my childhood:
My mercies are new every morning. Look for them.
He also led me to a verse in Isaiah:
I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
Isaiah 45:2-3 NIV
I knew the Lord was not reassuring me that I would survive the cancer. Instead, these Scriptures urged me to watch for treasures in the darkness, riches stored in secret places, placed there for me by the Lord, as a means to help turn my heart toward Him. My circumstances had not changed in those moments. I still did not know my prognosis, but His promise to send me new mercies every morning and treasures in the darkness settled my fears and reminded me that He was well aware of my private and public needs.
The ministry of encouragement began with those promises. God promised to send new mercies every morning. I could sleep at night, trusting that He would give me what I needed the next day to meet the tasks at hand. I soon learned that often the way that God keeps His promises is to send one of His children as His emissary. One of the priceless treasures He sent me and continues to send me is life-giving encouragers that help turn my heart toward Him.
As you accept His call to encourage others, you can do so with complete confidence that He provides new mercies every morning for the tasks that day.
He gives you the mercy needed to represent His compassion, whether it is through your presence, doing menial tasks that are too difficult for your friend or working alongside of her in her daily responsibilities. Extending His mercy might be writing a note with a Scripture promise or whispering in her ear, “I love you and I’m so sorry for this pain you are in.” Your obedience to the encouragement mandate is one way God sends new mercies to your friend. Watch for those mercies and treasures. They are designed as love notes for you, to remind you that the Lord your God loves you and calls you by name.
As each new day starts, remember this promise to God’s children. Be on the alert. Expect new mercies designed to remind you that He is the Lord your God and calls you by name. Be intentional in your prayer time and “consider carefully” how to encourage the people in your circle of influence. Ask the Lord what your friend, child, co-worker needs from you today: a phone call, a text with Scripture, a visit, lunch in a park, a walk, a meal? Make a note in your journal of one practical way you will extend mercy to your friend or child today.
Father, we thank you for the promise of new mercies and treasures in the darkness. Open our hands and hearts to receive each one as a love note from You.