By Contributing Writer, Brandy Ferguson
Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever needed encouragement desperately and searched for it, only to find….none?
Have you ever sent an email to someone, hoping, even asking for encouragement, and then checked and re-checked your inbox only to find…..nothing?
Maybe you’ve texted a friend, needing an ear to listen, only to find she’s….not available?
Has it ever happened that the day you feel most down is the same day your husband works late, your sister is busy, and your friends are scarce?
It’s happened to me. More than once.
It’s almost as if God is trying to show me that He is all I need. That HE, Himself wants to encourage me.
But I’m human, and I must admit that that sure is hard sometimes. I confess that in difficult seasons when I’ve needed encouragement that badly, I’ve looked to others for their words of encouragement and often found none.
Does it even make sense that the people I’m closest to don’t see the need to encourage me? It’s almost as if they can’t SEE me. And they CAN’T if I’m texting, emailing or calling them. Is THIS the problem? We’ve lost a real sense of connection. Sure, technology is a blessing in many ways, but in this one instance, much is lost in not being able to see a person’s face. So, it’s not really anyone’s fault for not recognizing my need, then, if I am choosing to reach out for help in this way, is it?
But what about the people who CAN see me? People like my husband, my friends, people at church. Shouldn’t THEY be able to recognize when I need encouraging? It makes sense that they would.
So, what happens when they don’t?
What happens is that God will sometimes use a perfect stranger to offer the words our weary soul needs to hear.
It happened to us again, just the other day. I’d been struggling with feelings of inadequacy for several days, looking for encouragement, wishing someone would breathe some life into my soul with some optimistic words. Our family of ten was sitting at a restaurant, and I knew we were being watched (as usual). An older couple finished their meal and came over to our table.
“I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful family you have,” she said. “They are all so well behaved!”
“Thank you so much,” I returned politely, thinking she was finished.
And then, with tears in her eyes, she said….
“You’re great parents!”
And just like that, in an instant, I realized God had used a perfect stranger to encourage us. Only HE could have known what I needed to hear. Only HE could have impressed on this sweet lady’s heart the words to say.
Before spending too long trying to justify why what she said wasn’t true (why do we do that!?!), I breathed a breath of fresh air, knowing her words were a gift.
And I came away with not only encouragement for myself, but a realization that we must, I must, be a better encourager. How many times have I felt impressed to encourage a stranger, but I’ve shrugged it off? Have you ever been in that situation?
I want to encourage you to encourage others. It’s funny how it works. But perhaps surprisingly, the people who encourage others need encouraging, too.
Look around you. Is there someone who needs an encouraging word? You may not know unless you ask.
Who knows? Maybe you will be the one giving the encouragement. Or maybe you’re the one needing it.