Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start # 3102

Jump Start # 3102

Luke 18:1 ”Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.”

  As I write this, I know a young Christian who is awaiting test results that may show he has cancer. I know a mother whose child has died. I know a couple who are heading for a divorce. I know a preacher that is discouraged and would like to quit. I know a family who has a loved one in the hospital and he likely will die there. I know several congregations that are floundering right now. There are numerous congregations that are currently looking for a preacher. Times are tough. Prices are high. Supplies are limited. And, it seems our light is flickering and at times about to go out.

Words escape us. It’s hard to know how to encourage. What do we say in these situations? Sometimes we do nothing and we know that is not right. Sometimes people suffer alone because the church isn’t there. What do we say when the news is bad? What do we do when things are dark?

  Here are a few thoughts:

  First, pray. That’s the direction of our passage. To lose heart, is to become discouraged. Some are already there. You can help by praying for them and with them. Prayer isn’t doing nothing, it’s inviting the greatest help that we know. There is no power like God’s. Pray can drive away the fog of uncertainty and fear. Pray can help our faith grow. “Can I pray for you,” is a great thing to say. Or, better yet, “Tonight, I’m saying your name to Heaven.” That does several things. First, you are bringing God into the situation. Second, it shows that you care enough to say that person’s name to God. Third, you encourage by letting them know you have done that.

  Second, stop with all the questions. Our curiosity gets the best of us. We want to know details, details, details. But so much of that is none of our business and it doesn’t help the situation. Some folks fear coming to services after a tragedy because they know they will be bombarded with so many personal questions. Often there is nothing that we can do with the information other than tell someone else. Being nosey can lead to gossip, which will hurt the family rather than help them.

  And, believe me, we can be nosey. I’ve heard it. I’ve stood beside a casket with a widow next to me and have heard people say, “Wow, how much is this funeral going to set you back?” Really? “Did he have any final words?” If he did, is it any of your business? “Will you stay in your house?” “Do you think you’ll get married again?” “Did he have any life insurance?” Unless you have cash in your hand that you intend to give the person, don’t ask those questions. It is better to say nothing that to say something dumb and something that will hurt. And, much too often, we feel obligated to answer all of those personal questions. I prep families for such things and tell them to pat their hand and say, “Thank you for coming.”

  Third, your presence makes a difference. Be there. Go. Bring food. Prepare to sit in silence. Prepare to make yourself useful. Have you noticed how many times Jesus went. People needed Him and he went. He never said, “See Me in My office tomorrow morning.” Now did people come with names and addresses of sick people and Jesus healed them from a desk chair in a corporate office? He was among the people. He allowed them to question Him, touch Him, and invite Him.

  Nothing beats face to face. It’s always the best. Texts are nice. Emails are important. But face to face, nothing beats that. Nothing. It takes more time to be face to face. It’s often inconvenient on our time and schedule to do face to face, but it’s always worth it.

Encouragement—that means to build up. It means to make better. It means to strengthen. One shouldn’t see us coming and then turn the lights out and hope we go away. Encouragement is pouring your heart into a heart that has been bruised and is empty. Encouragement is to remind someone that they do not journey through this tragedy alone. Encouragement is to make someone better. Encouragement is not about us but always about the other person.

  I expect the reason why most drop out of fellowship is not because of what is taught and definitely not because the way Jesus treated them, but sadly, the way we have treated them. Ignored. Left on their own. Shooting our own wounded has been the custom of far too many places. God calls upon us to be encouragers. That happens through connections. This is driven by love.

  Troublesome times are upon us in many ways. It’s time for some real encouragement.