How can we encourage someone who is really struggling?
“For this is what the high and lofty One says, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘He lives in the height and in holiness, and also with the one who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15
It is so powerful to know that our Holy God appreciates when we are contrite and humble—when we fail and make mistakes and we are repentant and sorry. And he wants to REVIVE us when we are in that frame of mind. This implies that He does not see our failures and mistakes as defining us. He desires to revive us, to help us regain our strength and determination to live a life pleasing to Him. He wants to encourage us!
He has given us tools to revive us in the midst of this kind of discouragement, and they all involve a refocus of our thoughts, and our thoughts are very powerful. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7
- We can dwell on the depth of love that God and Christ have for every member of our human family (and that includes you and me!) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” John 3:16 This well-known verse illustrates the depth of divine love. God’s love was so deep and wide that He was willing to have His only begotten Son, the closest living being to Him in the universe, leave his presence in heaven and come to earth as a human being to be the sacrifice and die the death of the cross. His purpose was so that ALL in our human family would be blessed. (Genesis 22:16-18) And the love of the son of God was so deep and wide that he was willing to become a human being, wholly devoted to the purpose of his Father, experiencing the hostility of sinners against himself, even to the death of the cross. (Hebrews 12:2-3, Philippians 2:8)
In Ephesians 3:18-19, Paul talks about understanding “how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is…though it is too great to understand fully.” It is amazing to really think about the dimensions of divine love and realize we are loved more than we can imagine!
- We can refocus on His love and amazing ability to create by getting out into nature—His creation, and reflecting on the power and love behind the diversity and the beauty of it (Psalm 8:3, 95:4-5)
- We can refocus on kingdom blessing and personalize it. Jesus can hardly wait to bless me, and to bless us all in the kingdom. We can imagine God saying, “Look! I am creating entirely new heavens and a new earth! They will be so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore! As you wait for the reality of what I am creating, be filled with joy and unending gladness. Look! I am ready to create Jerusalem as a source of sheer joy, and her people, an absolute delight! I will rejoice in this new Jerusalem and find great delight in my people. You will no longer hear the sound of weeping or cries of distress.” (Isaiah 65:17-19 )
- We can refocus on gratitude. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30 Thankfulness and gratitude are like a magnifying glass, making God and the blessings our lives bigger than the hard stuff in life. It can help to keep a gratitude journal, making a list of 3 to 5 things to be grateful for each day.
- We can exercise a good sense of humor and cheerfulness. “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:2
- We can focus on how I can be a help and blessing to someone today. We receive such a blessing when we find ways to bless others. “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38
In general, it can help to refocus on “What is in my power” and try to let go of what is not.