And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV)
I was in Chicago over the weekend for some Desiring God events and was reminded that our unique stories give us unique opportunities to point people to God.
- I met a mom who lost her daughter suddenly last year. God had helped her and held her through that loss and she never felt anger toward God; she deeply encouraged me. And she wanted prayer for a friend who lives with a deadly degenerative disorder; I think God helped me to serve her.
- I met a grandmother who lost an infant granddaughter to a rare genetic anomaly. God helped that family through this deep suffering, and amazing things happened. As they walked with God in their suffering, some people watching them had their blindness to God’s glory removed. God used that little girl’s 28 days of life to change eternity for some people. To say I was encouraged is an understatement!
- I met a man who no longer had a job, yet was with his happy wife and children. Together, these parents were clinging to promises even as they prayed for God’s help for the provision they need. I saw a good man leading his family well. It was a joy to pray with and for him.
- I met a couple who left a horrible ‘religious’ movement through a series of incredible, miraculous events. The lingering pain and need for healing after the years they spent in that movement was palpable. And the rising confidence that God is good and for them because of Jesus Christ was also evident. It is a privilege to pray for such people.
So much joy in the midst of so much pain.
I didn’t feel ‘fainthearted’ as we went down to Chicago to meet and pray with these friends of Desiring God. Maybe I was and didn’t realize I was in danger, so God provided the encouragement I needed in an unexpected way through these stories and examples of people walking confidently in faith in the midst of suffering. Whatever the reason, I’m glad for it because I was encouraged and helped through their stories.
And I was reminded of this simple truth: God is glorious and good to us in ways we cannot begin to comprehend. Let us use our stories to point people to the source of hope and to encourage each other, for God’s glory and for our joy.