“The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” Acts 28:15
However, to meet a friend in faith at their point of need may require some inconvenience on your part. To encourage them in their misfortune may mean you have to rearrange your schedule and say no to something important but not necessary. Investments in people take time and sometimes sacrifice. People care can be messy.
Cancer can be cruel. But when a friend is under its curse, then we can be there to bless.
Do not worry about what to say—just show up. Speak very little and when you do, ask sincere questions. Appropriate questions may be, “How can I help?” Or, “How can I pray for you and your family?” Or, a tender, “How do you feel?” No sermonizing or stories of people who suffered similar plights are edifying.
Yes, weave in a prayer and soothing Scripture during your time, but do all with sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading. Just showing up is the best medicine. Do not be concerned about your own feelings of inadequacies or sadness. Keep the focus on Christ and “loving on” your friend in need. You are God’s deliverer of grace and kindness. “I do not do hospitals” is no excuse. Jesus said that hanging out with the sick was equivalent to ministering to Him. It is a journey with Jesus, on behalf of Jesus and to Jesus when you care for the hurting.
God may be calling you to travel a long distance to encourage a friend in the faith. Maybe the need is to travel overseas to a land and people ravished by poverty and disease. There may be Christians on the ground serving on foreign soil that need for you to show up. They do not need you to provide answers or pontificate about the plight of the people. What they need are loving leaders who will show up and who will serve under the leadership of the nationals at their point of perceived and real needs.
Moreover, prison is the sentence of some. There are currently Christians who are incarcerated for their faith. They need our encouragement and prayers. Pray that we who are free of jail can feel the pain of those who are locked up for Jesus. Public expression of faith is not to be taken for granted. Millions of believers around the globe cannot proclaim or discuss Christ publicly, yet the church is thriving in some of these faith confining environments. When you show up there, be careful—you will be changed forever. The faith of the West looks fragile and fatigued compared to those saints’ whose faith that has been galvanized by persecution.
So, show up—not just for the encouragement of the friend in need but for your own edification. You will go to be a blessing and in turn will receive much more of a blessing. This is how God works many times. The sufferers become the encouragers. Your gratitude to God explodes because of the faith and hope you witness in others suffering “mega” trials and tribulations. Show up to help others so that you, in turn, can be helped. We are a family of faith. We all need each other, especially in times like these!
Taken from Dose 47 in the 90-day devotional book, Infusion.