We serve such a loving and compassionate God Who knows our every need. He is indeed able to meet each of those needs and He often does it quietly on His own. But sometimes He uses other Christians, or even non-Christians to meet those needs through.
God has been very faithful in my life in that regard. I became a Christian early in life and that has been a blessing for me because I was under the umbrella of God's protection in my home. The biggest influences in my life as a young child were my parents and family members. That is as it should be in my opinion.
Along the way in high school and college, God always surrounded me up with Christian friends and youth leaders that helped me to find joy and yet stay within the boundaries set up by God in His Word. When He brought my husband into my life, He truly gave me a gift of a godly man who would be the spiritual leader of our home. Soon we had two children and tried to raise them as best we could under that same umbrella of God's protection through our family.
I remember, though, that in my early thirties, there were issues in my life that I had not dealt with and there was a depth in my walk with God that I had not yet been able to find. It was at that time that God brought a godly Sunday School teacher who later became my best friend into my life. Funny thing is, I really, really did not like her at first. Why? Because she made me uncomfortable in her vulnerability and in her straight forward approach to what God REALLY had to say in His Word and what His call on every Christians life REALLY was! I was not ready to hear that because it involved great sacrifice, complete surrender of everything in one's life...not just their own heart but complete sacrifice of one's children and husband trusting that God would hold them in His had just as He held me and I didn't need to worry over them so much. At the time, I thought I had cancer and so did my doctor. Things were tough for us financially due to health care bills and other related things. I just didn't see God coming through for me in the way that "I" wanted Him, too. But eventually, God put me in a situation where she and I were in a room alone and I was cornered. I found out that our experiences were very similar; that she had walked through such a similar path as the one that I was walking through and that there was hope. She got me involved in Precept Bible studies with the help of some of my friends and God grew me up in a way that I never knew was possible. He was preparing me for the storm of my life down the road but I didn't know that. I found happiness and fulfillment as I learned to study the Bible on my own and to go deeper with Christ. Sometimes I would be so sick that I would be holding the Bible in one hand and hanging over the toilet with the other. Now that I was utterly convinced that God was in charge of what was happening in my life no matter which way it went, I was happier than I had ever been even though I was so sick. I didn't have cancer and I got well and went on to become a trained Precept Leader and a Bible teacher to the very people that I had always said I wouldn't teach...my peers. God used me often in spite of myself. He honored the fact that I had hidden His word in the treasure chest of my heart so that when I needed it, the Holy Spirit could go and pull out the verse with the counsel that suited the situation.
Then the storm came and it was ferocious. But you know what? Even though there were very dark moments, I was able to stand. And God used people that I never would have imagined during those five years. He used friends; He used a Jewish pediatrician; He used a Unitarian teacher; He used a Christian doctor, dentist and orthodontist. And He used dear beloved friends that He had put in my life during the previous years. I was better taken care of in that storm than I had ever been. He also greatly used my beloved parents. No one was ever more blessed during this dark night of my soul than I was. I didn't always see the blessings because sadness and fear would try to tear me down but God was enough. He even helped me to keep on teaching Bible studies and Sunday School classes during that time. He was faithful to have encouragers everywhere I looked.
As life has gone on, He has brought other people into my life. I couldn't possibly mention all of those that He has used but I am thinking of one particular person that moved in alongside of me when she saw that I needed something an expensive piece of equipment that I really couldn't afford. Without batting an eye, she said, "You are like a sister to me and I am going to pay for this." Boy, it is surely harder to receive than to give. I am a giver. I like to give. But once again, God put me in a position of being a receiver. I think great humility is learned when one is on the receiving end. This person is one of the dearest persons in the world to me and it's not because of what she gave but because of who she is to me!
God surrounds me all the time with a group of ladies who are my prayer partners and who are completely trustworthy. How encouraging it is to be able to share your heart with someone and know that it will not go any further and that you will not be judged by them no matter what you say. I call these ladies my CB's (couch buddies) and they are precious to me. We each try to encourage the other. At any given time, it may be a different person in need of encouragement and the other three are quick to be there for that person. We also hold each other accountable. What a gift these friends are to me. Did you know that "friend" is a covenant term used by God? What a special thing to be a true friend to someone.
My health has not been very good for quite a while. I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, sleep apnea and a host of other "goodies" that come along for the ride with these diseases. So my husband who is my greatest helper and does all of the cooking and cleaning these days is really challenged. He has had to learn to cook and I must say that he does an excellent job of it. He does the cleaning and the grocery shopping and a host of other things. How we have missed being able to be in our church home. We watch our church on television but it is not the same. As a person who is used to being in church every time the doors are open, these last few years have been so very difficult for me. But Bill is always there for me no matter what happens.
Recently, God put a friend from the past that we reconnected with on FaceBook back in our lives; someone that I had only known a year. This person has taken us by surprise by sending us "care packages" with sweet gifts in them...cd's, books, tickets to a concert which we weren't able to attend but passed on to another couple who really needed a break. Another care package came today with David Jeremiah's new book and study guide in it along with other items. The motivation for this is, to this dear friend, just to cheer us on while we are going through so much isolation. Our social calendar is pretty much limited to doctors and an occasional dinner out. We do not expect anything from this friend except friendship and yet God has laid it on his heart to be one of our encouragers. How dear that he is so in tune to the voice of God and even more that God has specifically put him in this position.
I know that God has used me in many lives. I only hope that the things I did, said, gave, prayed were as helpful as the things that have come my way through others who had the gift of encouragement. What about you? I know that some people are stronger in the area of encouragement than others but we all are responsible for touching lives around us. It IS a blessed thing to give of oneself, one's talents, and even material things to others. Even while at home in my condition, I consider it an honor to be able to mentor a young person via phone and internet. I hope that I will not be stuck home in this position for much longer but I can only look up and trust God. I have no other recourse and I feel that I am in the safest place that I can be when I do that.
Encourage someone today. Be Jesus in someone's life. Pray about it and ask Him to lead you to the right people or bring them your way. Encouraging others is something that all of God's children can do even when we are traveling through our own personal storm. The rewards are immeasurable!