Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
"Encouraging someone else doesn't always mean giving a pep talk or words of wisdom. Sometimes the best kind of encouragement is just sitting in silence - waiting and weeping with a friend."
As a pastor, I see situations daily that nobody should ever have to go through alone. Nobody should ever have to wait in the hospital while a loved one is in life-or-death surgery. No woman should ever have to wait alone for the lab report on a problem pregnancy. Nobody should ever have to wait for news from a battlefield alone. Nobody should ever have to stand at the edge of an open grave alone. Nobody should ever have to spend the first night alone when their spouse has just walked out.
Life's tough times and tragedies are inevitable - each of us will face them. But we don't need to go through them alone. We need God's safety net to help hold us up through these difficult times.
What is God's safety net? It is a group of other believers - a handful of people who are really committed to you. We call this kind of group a community. Here's God's plan for community: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26 NIV). Community is God's answer to despair.
Romans 12:15 expresses a similar idea: "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (NIV).
The first part of that verse is easy. When something good happens to someone, it's often easy to join in on the party.
But when someone is having a tough time, it can seem more difficult. But, really, it's simple. When you're going through a crisis, you don't want advice; you just want somebody to be there - to sit with you, hold your hand, put an arm around your shoulder, or cry with you.
As Paul tells us, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Encouraging someone else doesn't always mean giving a pep talk or words of wisdom. Sometimes the best kind of encouragement is just sitting in silence - waiting and weeping with a friend.
Do you have a safety net - a group of fellow Christians you know you can count on in life's toughest times? If not, go out today and begin building those friendships. The hard times in life are inevitable, and only a fool would go into them unprepared.