The Making of an Encourager
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
People love encouragers, and the Lord intends for each of His children to be one. An encourager is able to stand beside someone else to give hope and the motivation to persevere through difficult times. We are not born with this ability fully developed, but we can follow several essential steps to become capable of supporting and empathizing with a hurting friend.
First, we must be willing to experience pain. The apostle Paul was an encourager; in verse 4 of today’s passage, he urges us to reach out to others with the “comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” To experience comfort and have it flow through us, we must suffer some heartache. There’s power in the touch of a person who has been in the valley. Someone who experiences pain does not offer empty words, but hope.
Second, we need to learn the principles that are available to us in our suffering. If we can view our heartache as a class in God’s university, where our enrollment will produce a degree in encouragement, much of the sting will dissipate. The Lord teaches us to place our trust in Him alone, and then we can pass that wisdom on to others.
The most effective encouragers are those who say, “There was nothing I could do but cry out to God. Let me tell you what the Lord did in response.” If we try to escape pain, we will miss out on the principles that can be learned only from suffering; then we cannot be useful to others. Our loving Father builds encouragers from the material of a life willing to be broken.