Submitted by Jen Bauer (missionary wife in Australia)
While reading through To Live is Christ by Beth Moore, I not only became more familiar with Paul, but also with his friend Barnabas. Barnabas' name means "son of encouragement or consolation". Paul comes across as a rough and tumble kind of man, so it seems almost odd to see him become good friends with someone such as Barnabas. Paul doesn't seem to be the type of person who needs encouragement, but he did, and God sent Barnabas into his life.
You know the story of Paul, but what struck me in this study is how the disciples didn’t accept him until Barnabus came in and encouraged them to welcome him. Turns out Paul did need him. I don’t blame the disciples, I’d be skeptical, too. Paul was on his way with written orders to take Christians as prisoners. Even Annanias was a bit hesitant. How often does someone get saved, and we say, “I’ll believe it when I see it last for more than a few days.” Shame on us. We ought to do as Barnabus did, and encourage others to welcome them into the family!
Courage is the root word for encourage. It takes courage to be an encouragement. Sometimes it’s easy to sit back and do nothing.
How often do we need a good friend and God sends a Barnabas into our life? Awhile back I needed some encouragement and God sent a Barnabas to me. I have several friends who I am able to depend on in the good times, as well as the bad times. Friends who let me know they're praying for me, who share Scripture with me, who just lend a listening ear (which that alone is important because those who know me know I like to talk...a lot).
Sometimes it's so easy to just tell someone "I'll be praying for you". But do we follow through with that promise? Samuel said, "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you..." (I Samuel 12:23)
I have a friend who is going through a difficult time. I've been trying to think of ways that I can be an encouragement. Here are a few, maybe you can add more in the comments.
- Promise to pray for them, and then be sure to take time to pray for them.
- Share Scripture with them (even if you don't know what they're going through, there are many verses you can still share).
- Listen...I always tell my daughter God gave us two ears so we can listen twice as much as we talk.
- Send them a card reminding them that you are praying for you them (again, please be sure you are praying for them).
- If you can afford it, send them some flowers, or go pick some wildflowers. What a nice reminder that they are special to you.
- Lastly, don't share their burdens as "prayer requests" to others, unless the individual has specifically asked you to. Some times "sharing prayer request" is just another word for gossiping.
I'd also like to share some verses with you that I use in times when I'm discouraged or to share with others in their time of need.
- Psalm 9:10 "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee."
- Psalm 18:6 "In my distress I called upon the LORD and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears."
- Psalm 27:14 "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."
- Psalm 30:5b "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
- Psalm 34:18 "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
- Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strenth, a very present help in trouble."
- Psalm 61:2 "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
- Psalm 62:8 "Trust in him at all times; ye people pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah."
- Psalm 86:5 "For thou, LORD, art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee."
- Psalm 119:71 "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn they statutes."
- Psalm 119:165 "Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them."
- Psalm 130:5 "I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope."
These are just a few from the Psalms, most written by David, a man of God. I love how God showed the weaknesses of His people, it reminds me that I’m not alone. David was a man after God's own heart, but there were times when he was discouraged. Paul says in I Corinthians 1:4 "Who [God] comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." Sometimes God puts us through trials, so we may be able to comfort (and encourage!) others down the road who will go through the same thing. God is good!
There is good news for those discouraged! I Corinthians 10:13 says "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it."
I once saw this quote on a friend's facebook status: "Be kinder than necessary, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." It's now one of my favorite quotes. I pray that each of us will be a Barnabas to someone today.