The other day I talked about life being tough. In fact life is downright hard. Some people got really ticked off at me and some had some interesting questions. I confess now, that to some extent it was a set-up. Yes, I wanted to explore the reality that life is hard and in my opinion, too many people spend too much time complaining about the consequences of the poor choices that they made or are too focused on “something” else making them happy.
I’ll spend quite a bit of time this week surrounded by hurting people, the truth is that you will too. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a guy who if you met him you’d never know what I’m about to tell you. He’s a good guy, who works hard and loves God. He’s married with no kids. So what’s the problem? His wife is pregnant with another man’s baby. Yes, you read that right. Now, he’s told two people at the seminary. Why? “I’m afraid they’ll be stupid Christians” were his exact words to me.
Then there’s the girl who moved out of her house because her husband beat her. I know a young man who lost both of his parents to cancer by the time he was 6. These situation are tragic, they’re heartbreaking. There’s a girl that my daughter knows that talks about her mom’s boyfriends and different situations that make my daughters eyes bug out of her head. I’m sure if I just created a blank page for you the reader to fill in, we could list story after story of people who are around us and hurting.
Sometimes the hurt is because of something that we’ve done. For a long time in my life I carried hurt because of choices that I made. I walked around with hurt bubbling just below the surface.
Sometimes, the hurt is because of what others have done. Somebody hurt you. Maybe they rejected you, maybe they abused you. I don’t know, but I can almost guarantee that the vast majority of people who will read these words have been hurt by someone. Usually, if I’m talking through this it is at this point that some people’s head start to shake up and down and I can see them thinking about it. Yes, they have been hurt. But that misses the point I’m making. Think about all the people you’re going to come in contact with today. They’ve been hurt. They’ve been abused, misused and discarded.
I sometimes hear people say that our society is getting angrier and angrier every year. I wonder if that is because as a society we are not able to help people heal at the same level hurt is being afflicted on people. I wonder if as we focus more on our life and the short comings that are there in it we fail to see the hurt in other people and it somehow doesn’t become a vicious cycle. I mean think about it. How many people haven’t been hurt? Who hasn’t had someone mis-use them? Probably almost no-one.
They are walking all around you today. They were walking all around you yesterday. They will be walking around you tomorrow. All around us are people who’s life is a mess either because of choices that someone made. I’ve been reading the gospels for one of my classes. Think about it, who isn’t messed up in the Gospels? Jesus. That’s it. Everyone else is an absolute mess.
Think about the woman at the well in John 3. You talk about a woman who’s life is blowing up around her. She’s on her fifth husband. What do you think her self view was? Do you think she looked at herself as a whore? Do you think she hated herself? Do you think she had a longing she couldn’t she couldn’t get filled no matter what she did? How about the woman caught in Adultery? What do you think was going on in her heart? How about Zaccheus? Do you think he felt that everyone hated him? Did everyone hate him?
The entire entourage that followed Jesus was a jumble of broken people. Somehow, they found a home with Jesus. Somehow they found acceptance. Somehow Jesus talked past their hurt and anger and spoke to their deepest fears that they really were accepted. That they really were loved. That there was hope.
The writer of Hebrews deals with this very issue. Brilliant writer that she was, she says this, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (See Hebrews 3:13) He also says this, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
These verses talk about us focusing on others. Notice there is no exception clause there for those people who also have it hard. We’re all supposed to be encouraging each other. Encouraging them onto to “love and good deeds.” It talks about avoiding the hardening effects of sin by encouraging one another. This is the power you have; this the power that God has entrusted you with. It seems to me by even the most cursory examinations of the New Testament reveals that God has entrusted us with the task of encouraging one another.
Now, we can all think of ways that other people can encourage us more, but I want to challenge you to consider how you can encourage others. What will that look like for you? What will it look for you to encourage and spur others on to good works? Think of at least one person you can encourage by tomorrow. Then go do it.
May you see the power of encouraging others no matter what is happening in your life, and may you be encouraged today that no matter what has happened in your life, God has given you a tremendous opportunity. He has given you tremendous power. You can be a catalyst for those around you to live as God intended them to live.