A Song of Ascents.
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.
I’ve had the privilege of coming along side several women during their pregnancies and the following sleepless months of becoming a new mother. Maybe it’s because becoming a mother has been the best, hardest, most joyful, most humbling work I’ve ever done…I don’t know, really. But, it’s a niche God has placed me in and I enjoy it immensely. I enjoy being able to spend time in fellowship with these women, supporting, encouraging, praying with them, helping them wade through the tidal wave of emotions that comes along with being pregnant and a new (exhausted!) parent. It is an honor to get the middle of the night phone calls that they are in labor and the following calls that their lives have been forever changed. And so special to watch them grow and change into beautiful vessels, honoring the Lord in the choices they make as mothers. I know I get waaaay more out of the relationships than my friends do!
I was walking and talking with my friend Sarah yesterday (who is about to give birth any day now!) and afterwards, I was struck by how similar encouraging a pregnant woman is to encouraging a fellow believer in the times we’re living in right now. She’s so close to meeting her new baby. All that stands between her and that glorious moment is labor and delivery, a process that will take a matter of hours (we all hope!). God has been making a point of showing me other believers who are hurting and struggling lately. I think as a point of distinction, that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me! Many of them are already believers, but they’ve been through some tough things, difficult circumstances, tragedy, poor decision-making…it really doesn’t matter as much why they are hurting, but that they are hurting. They could use some encouragement. Some cheerleading. An “Atta-boy/girl!”
Have you ever noticed that many of the epistles end with encouragement? The authors have used most of their letters outlining specific spiritual doctrine or laying the foundations for healthy spiritual development, but most of them end on an encouraging note. Just nudging the reader towards the Lord, towards abandonment of self and full reliance on the Lord. It makes me think of how I approach others. Am I encouraging or do I just see the problems and difficulties and focus on those? Do I leave others with a sense of encouragement, with a sense that God is in control and able to accomplish His will for their lives? Do I encourage others to seek Him more fully, to trust in Him? Do I use scripture to sweeten my words?
I could use some work in this area…
We are living in difficult times and we could all turn inward and focus on surviving the spinning-out-of-control-merry-go-round we all seem to be on. But God created us for this time, with specific purpose. And I think part of that is to be light to an ever-darkening world and encouragement to each other in the Lord. All that stands between us and forever is the groaning and labor of this world. These last few moments are difficult…just like the last few days and hours before giving birth.
So, I’m challenging you, Reader (if anyone is really even reading this,) with the same challenge I am facing: Get involved. Ask God to show you someone in need and then step forward. Reach out. Share. Comfort. Speak the truth…lovingly. Remind them of God’s grace and forgiveness, of His desire for wholeness for us all. Be a soothing balm as you speak the Word to them. Care deeply. Be flexible. Be open. Be willing. Be vulnerable. Be like Jesus… and then come back and tell me about it, because I need the encouragement, too.
Father, Thank You for encouraging me. For lifting my eyes and heart. For showing me others who are in greater need than I. Help me to be like You. Help me to love. Help me to be self-less. Help me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.