Strength in God
Jonathan helped David find strength in God.
— 1 Samuel 23:16
Jonathan’s father wanted to murder Jonathan’s best friend, David. Jonathan offered the only help he knew would equip his friend for this battle: Jonathan helped David find strength in God. It’s important to remember the purpose of life-giving encouragement can be a solution, but most of the time, our call is to help another find strength in the Lord. Sometimes that means “fixing” the problem, rescuing an abused child, feeding the hungry, providing protection for the homeless. For the Christian, the ultimate purpose of life-giving encouragement is to help turn hearts toward the Lord. Through prayer and His Word, we discover what actions He wants us to take to accomplish His ultimate eternal purposes. Remember the definition of encouragement:
To give courage, spirit, or hope, to stimulate.
And remember how Susan Hunt and Ligon Duncan described a Life-Giver in their book, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church:
The name “Life-Giver” is derived from the meaning of the word Eve. A Life-Giver/Helper: defends; sees and cares for the oppressed; supports others; shields and protects; delivers from distress; rescues the poor, weak, and needy; comforts. A Life-Taker/Hinderer: attacks; is indifferent, unconcerned for the oppressed; weakens, leaves unprotected and defenseless; causes distress; ignores the poor, weak and needy; avoids and causes discomfort.
There is a beautiful picture of this kind of encouragement in the friendship of Jonathan and David. Jonathan’s own father wanted David dead. Instead of encouraging fear in David, Jonathan encouraged him to find strength in the Lord. He also helped him escape. Many friends came alongside our family when grief took over our home. They offered help and hope through practical deeds, making sure our home did not descend into chaos while all of our energy flowed into processing the absence of our son, Mark. Though they felt helpless, their actions helped create a pathway into the arms of our Father, where we discovered He is sovereign and we could trust Him.
That is our goal for our hurting friends: in the darkness they will discover treasures designed to remind them that God is their Father and Lord, and He knows their name. He is holy other, yet totally present. We cannot fathom this kind of power, but darkness is an opportunity to grow deeper in intimacy with Jesus. When you enter the darkness, go acknowledging you don’t know what to do, so your eyes are fixed on Jesus. Declare your dependency on Him. Watch for the treasures God is sending to your friend. Help her see His presence and touch, and look for those treasures He is sending to you, as you are His representative in the broken friend’s life.
Review the prayer from yesterday’s devotional. Jot down practical ways in your journal you can encourage a friend today. It may seem completely unspiritual, yet by obeying God’s nudge, you are reflecting the love of Jesus, and becoming the shoulders, arms, hands, and feet of God for your friend
Lord, how can I be a Jonathan to my terrified and hurting friend today? Is there a practical way to lighten her load? Does she need my presence? Does she need me to clean out a closet, bring a meal, pick up her kids from school, offer to drive an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment so she can rest? Show me practical ways to offer the help and hope of Jesus.