God hath made it a debt which one saint owes to another to carry
their names to a throne of grace.
Our journey toward the long tomorrow takes us through the most dismal valleys, across darkened chasms, and over the most formidable peaks. Traipsing the black shadows of wilderness we encounter tempest and eerie calm, drought and desolation. Our path is an arduous one, winding and narrow, and seemingly unending. The City of God lies in the distance, visible only in the quiet mist of faith.
Such a pilgrimage is meant to be traveled in the company of Christ’s beloved. Solitude is the bane of the saints, unwise, and unthinkable. Through the trials and afflictions of life’s course, we are most at home when our hearts are firmly planted in the Love and mercy of Christ Jesus and our hands and feet are devoted to the benefit and friendship of one another.
Daily our lives are to be lived in the service of God and His bride. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love takes many forms as 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a shows us:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
One of the most beautiful expressions of love is encouragement. Webster’s Dictionary 1828 defines encouragement as:
The act of giving courage, or confidence of success; incitement to action or to practice; incentive.
Countless days I have been too weary to take another step, incapable of taking a breath, as weakness heaves me into the dust. My spirit catches a glimpse of the City of God– but I have nothing left. I am empty. I am worn. I am depleted. Then the Word of God nourishes me, the prayers of the saints before the throne of grace propels me to my feet, and wrapping their arms around my waist, friends lift me up, shifting the weight of my burden onto them. An encouraging friend spurs one another on, chained together and stepping as one.
How can we encourage one another? How can we love in the midst of our own storms? How can we endure the difficulties of the journey, living for the long tomorrow and in service of Christ Jesus? By the grace of God.
Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the whole armor of God:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
Encouragement comes with teeth. It is the preparation of the soul, the well overflowing with Living Water, and the adoration of Jesus Christ who supplies all our needs. He has bestowed upon us His grace in all sufficiency. As his grace and mercy overflows, let us freely fill the cup of the parched soul. To the trembling soldier, we must reassure him that we stand side by side in that glorious battle of life. Let us encamp together, tending to the wounds and absolving the hunger and thirst of the taxed. On the battlefield, enjoin together and be the arm to the wounded, extending their shield of faith when the strength is lacking.
We must avow ourselves to the throne of grace, fervently pleading on behalf of one another. Speak comfort of His Word, it is the balm to the weary soul, the strength to remedy all weakness. Let us enjoin with the great crowd of witnesses, their words echoing back across the chasm. The faithful are few and their treasure priceless.
Prayer is the best weapon forged against our deficiencies. It is the laying hold of His willingness. I cannot express how thankful I am for the many who have diligently prayed for my family. To know someone is praying for us with ardor and regularity has been such an encouragement to me. How do you encourage a friend? Pray. Pray at all times and with such love and dedication. Record prayer requests in a notebook and ask for ways to pray specifically. Pray. Come trembling to the throne of grace, casting your burdens at the feet of Jesus. And pray. As you come alongside your friend, pray with them, and for them. With a whisper, with a shout, with a groaning of a war weary soldier. Pray. Taste the Living Water and let your soul be refreshed.
Small tokens of thoughtfulness are especially appreciated. Small gifts (especially handmade items, uplifting music and books, coffee, teas, and hot chocolate, or giftcards), notecards, and beautifully written letters are so encouraging. There is nothing so refreshing as a personal touch bound with Scripture and edifying quotes. If it touches you, share it. Our Sovereign God sends just the right words at just the right time to just the right person. His grace is matchless.
The deepest and most meaningful way to encourage one another is to be present. Time spent in the presence of one another, sharing Scripture, struggles, tears, laughter, defeats, victories, blessings, and prayer. A phone call or text is appreciated as well but nothing compares to the gift of presence. As faithful saints we don’t have it all together, but together we have it all as we approach the throne of grace. Give of yourself in service, for the care of children and home, even the most mundane task speaks of abundant love.
It is especially encouraging to feel an outpouring of love from those who are fighting their own difficult battles, who bear scars of skirmishes past and battle wounds still bleeding. There is a deeper love here, a strength forged in the tempest. God wounds us to heal us, to grow us, to make beautiful the ugly scars of life’s trek through the wilderness. How beautiful is the King who welcomes the beggars to His feast.
Let us encourage one another with our time, with our service, with our thoughts, and with our prayers. Set your focus on Him as you endure life’s storms. Let your hands and feet work with love to those who are lost, who are suffering, who are lonely, who are worn. Let your own weariness be the strength and hope of the children of God.
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