How do we serve, love and encourage others when we are feeling in need of encouragement ourselves? It is so much easier to serve others from a place of assurance, confidence and contentment, and much harder when feeling broken! I have been struggling with anxiety and health related issues again in the past few weeks and have often felt unable to ‘give’ any more. But God has been reminding me of His truth when we feel this way.
An image that came to my mind when talking about encouraging and loving one another is that of a jug or vessel, filled to the brim with God’s love that can pour out into other’s lives. God is so gracious and loving towards us; He loves us SO much that He gave us Jesus, not only as the perfect example to live by, but as the perfect sacrifice to take our place and die for our sin (John 3v16). The Bible also tells us that He has given us all we need (Phil 4v11-13); in the face of difficulty we are more than conquerors in Him (Romans 8v37); and we do not need to be afraid because He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Deut 31v8). What powerful truths! They fill us with hope, and Romans says that “hope will not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5v5 HCSB). With that love filling our hearts, we are able, like a jug full to the brim, to pour out God’s love into the lives of those around us. I sometimes feel like ‘my jug’ is cracked, not pretty and certainly not beautiful, shiny and crack-free, as I perceive some of you lovely ladies around me to be! But do you know what? It doesn’t matter! God still fills me to the brim with his love, and no matter how cracked I’m feeling, I can still POUR! My challenge is to remain rooted in His love, like Colossians says: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude”.
As I have been trying to put this into practise, I am finding God’s word to be true where it says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12v9). When I feel like I don’t have the strength or energy to meet with someone for coffee, or cook a meal for someone, or help lead our life group, it is in those times when God has poured out His strength and enabling power. And I often find He totally blesses me through those things too! (NB. I should also say that sometimes I just need to say no and take a rest, and that is equally ok. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us discern what He wants us to do).A
One last thought. Last night as I lay in bed I heard a flock of geese pass over the house, calling to one another. In my imagination, they were flying south and migrating towards warmer weather. I’ve since looked it up and they do tend to fly at this time of year in V formation; their calling to one another in the dark is a way to let the others know they are still there and to encourage onward flight. As I lay there, I thought how much we need each other as a body of believers; we are ‘flying’ to a heavenly destination (Phil 3v13-14), often flying in spiritual darkness and we need to be calling out and encouraging one another to keep going! Let us keep calling to one another and pouring out His love as we take this journey together.