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The Courage that Comes from Encouraging

It's amazing how God can bring people into our lives to strengthen and encourage us in the times we need it most. During my hospital stay I was so very humbled by the work of God in bringing people together. My first roommate and her family were a huge blessing to me, not only for bringing more life and laughter to the room, but for strengthening me with their faith in God and giving me someone to encourage as well. My second roommate was every bit as amazing—someone to pray for and support in a difficult time, and a new friend to brighten my days.

There were others as well, new friendships, new connections, most of us sharing common ground, none of which would have been possible without the orchestration of God, and His conviction that compelled me to reach out intentionally.

In another time of my life, I might not have made an effort to reach out to those around me that shared my predicament. How often in a time of struggle do we retreat into ourselves, convinced that the only real problems in the world are our own? God used this experience to teach me a powerful lesson: that we can find strength in the times of our trials by strengthening others in theirs.

Even in the darkest trials, we are never exempt from our calling in Christ. We are commissioned to love our neighbour, teach all nations, pray without ceasing, and give unto others at all times, not only when our situation is bright but also when it is bleak. While it is always tempting to succumb to the desire to wallow in self-pity when the valleys overtake us, God gives us a purpose that stands even in our trials: to serve others, to be lights, and to represent Him.

This purpose gave me strength in a time of discouragement. I found courage in the calling to focus on others instead of myself, to seek opportunities to be Christ-like regardless of how I was feeling, to reach out to those around me who were facing trials of their own, to go out of my way to bring a smile to someone who maybe hadn't had one in a while. Though despair and loneliness still pierced me at times, I believe God brought these people into my life to help me see beyond myself. I hope that He used me to make a difference in their lives, but I know that He used them to make a difference in mine, and that, this week, is my Thankful Thursday thought—new friends, God's sovereignty, and the courage that comes from encouraging.

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