We all need encouragment

I love care ministry.  The care staff at NewSpring gets to hear and experience how Jesus changes lives every single week.  We have an unbelievable privilege of encouraging people, helping people with their life struggles, and the awesome opportunity to point others to Jesus.  But often, we deal with some heavy situations as well.  Sometimes the ministry gets overwhelming, and there are days where you wonder if what you are doing is helping people in a real way.  I know that God is always completely aware of when we need encouragment and sends it at just the right time.

Several weeks ago, I was having one of those weeks, and I received a letter in the mail that did more than make my day…it made my year.  As I read it, I wept and thanked God for His perfect timing and encouragment.  I have kept it on my desk everyday since then to always remind me of the awesome privilege God has given our care staff to encourage and speak truth to others; and that even when we are not aware of it, God is changing people and drawing them to Himself.

Here is the letter I received…

This letter is long overdue.  I’ve been meaning to write this for some time, but never knew exactly how to express what  I wanted to say.

You spoke at my father’s funeral last year.  While that day was one of the worst of my life, in the same breath, it was also the start of something amazing.  You see, my dad was sick for two years and had been through a tremendous amount of pain and suffering for the last few weeks of his life.  Throughout that time, I will admit, I was furious with God.  I know I may never understand the reason for his suffering, but I am no longer mad.

you see, in the two days following his death, I had MANY conversations with my well-meaning Christian friends who said things like, “he is in a better place now,” “you should be happy he’s with God,” and “you should be glad for the time you had with him.”  I interpreted those words to mean, “you must not be close to God if you’re sad.”  My take on that was, if being a Christian means I should rejoice in the death of my hero, then NO THANKS.  I felt like being a follower of Christ meant I had to turn off my emotions and thank God for taking my dad.  That did not sit well with me.  And I was mad.

Fast forward to his funeral.  I honestly expected you to say the same things all my well-meaning friends had said to me.  But you didn’t.  You told the story of how Jesus cried when someone died.  And you drove the point home by saying that even though Jesus knew the glory of the kingdom of God, he was still saddened by his loss.  Wow.  I remember that moment like it was yesterday.  For the first time in days, I cried without guilt.

The next night, I prayed.  It had been years since I had spoken to God, and I really didn’t know what to say.  I had turned from Him and walked away.  Thanks to you and your indescribably comforting words that day, I began to renew my relationship with Jesus Christ.  God used you that day to speak to my heart, and for that I will always be grateful.

My dad left a journal when he died.  In it he said he hoped that someday I would find my inner peace and that my husband would find his passion and purpose.  I didn’t fully understnad what he meant at the time.  I do now.  He was leading us to Christ. 

To the person that wrote this, I just want to say thank you.  Thank you for encouraging me and the staff at this church.  Thank you for being an encourager and allowing God to use you to lift up the staff at this church.

This letter has been such a challenge in my life, to slow down and take the time to encourage others.  I have a few people God is challenging me to encourage this week.  Who do you need to send a letter to and encourage?  Encouragment is contagious!

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