Do you have a friend who needs some encouragement today?
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:12-13 (NIV)
I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday.
I'd survived the awkward and much-dreaded moments of changing into my PE uniform in the girls' locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers listening to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the teacher's sharp whistle and the girls laughing behind me.
They weren't laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted, wanted and invited in to be a part of their group.
No, they were laughing at me.
I was the subject of their gossip. I was the punch line of their jokes.
And it hurt.
I imagine you know that hurt too. Change the scenery and people, and this same hurt can be found in most of our lives.
- When your co-workers all make plans to go to lunch, but you weren't invited.
- When that other preschool mom says, "Several of us moms are concerned with how aggressive your child seems on the playground."
- When everyone else's social media makes marriage look dreamy and uber-romantic as you're crying yourself to sleep.
Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement and suddenly you're not alone.
I want to be that friend for you today.
In the midst of whatever it is that's made your heart feel knocked off-kilter, can I whisper what I believe are the 5 best things one can say to a friend? And then might you give the gift of saying these things to a friend today?
This list is from our key verses, Romans 12:12-13, in a section titled "Love."
1. "You're wonderful."
(Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope ...")
What a loving thing to infuse joyful hope into your friend's life by reminding her why you think she is wonderful.
The world is quick to tell us girls all the ways we fall short. We are hyperaware of our faults and frailties.
So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways she's a wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, a wonderful co-worker, a wonderful person.
2. "Me too."
(Romans 12:12, "... patient in affliction ...")
What a gift to remind a friend we all have afflictions, hurts, faults and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.
The patient friend freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. "Me too" acknowledges that I'm no better than you, but together we can get stronger. It is such a loving and disarming admission that we're all in this together.
3. "I'll pray."
(Romans 12:12, "... faithful in prayer.")
Wouldn't it be wonderful to tell a friend you will absolutely be faithful in your prayers for her? I have someone who prays for me faithfully and even texts me Scriptures she's praying.
But here's what I really love about her. She doesn't just pray about my situations. She prays me through them. I honestly don't know how she hasn't gotten tired of praying for some of my same issues for so long. I get so tired of me ... but she never does. What a gift. A gift I know I must pass on by being faithful in my prayers for others.
4. "I'll share."
(Romans 12:13, "Share with the Lord's people who are in need ...")
When we notice a need in a friend's life, might we be willing to step in and be part of the solution?
I have a friend who lost every possession she owned due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a "Job (like the man in the Bible) Party." Each of us brought a few things to help her family start over.
We didn't come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance that God was working on their behalf.
5. "Come over."
(Romans 12:13, "Practice hospitality.")
Welcoming a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed gesture. There's just something about relationships that are less pixilated when we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice and talk. Really talk.
Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our differences to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship.
Yes, these are 5 great things, maybe even the best things, to say to a friend. So, today, I pause and say them to you.
Now, I haven't quite figured out how to do that last one. It would be such a hoot trying to fit you all in my kitchen, but I sure am dreaming about it!
Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of friendship. Please show me who I can encourage today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Think of a friend in need. Of the five statements above, which one can you put into practice with her today?
Hebrews 13:16, "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (NIV)