“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Hurt. We’ve all been hurt. We have all gone through hard times; we’ve all lost a loved one, struggled with a relationship, had a hard time at work…the list can go on and on. As I’m writing this devotion on comfort I think back to the time I needed comfort the most, the miscarriage of our baby. In Job 2:11 it says, “When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.” Now, in the story of Job, the friends gave him bad advice, but my point is that his friends came to him to comfort him. It is amazing how God works through other Christians in our lives. The month before my miscarriage, my dearest friend Korey came to live with us while her husband and she were selling their home. It was while they were there that my miscarriage happened. I believe I can honestly say that I would not have gotten through that time without the comfort of my best friend. God knew that I would need her and He brought her as close as possible to help me through that hard time. Korey was there to pray for me, encourage me, and offer the comfort that I needed.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” A good teacher friend of mine always helped with these verses by saying, “Therefore? What’s it there for?” So, let’s look at the verse prior. “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” Christ is where we receive the ultimate comfort, the promise of eternal life, and it is by knowing Him that we can comfort those who need comfort.
As youth ministers, we often work with youth who are hurting. Here in Thessalonians we see a command. Because Christ died for us, we are to encourage one another and build each other up. We are commanded to encourage, to build others up. This is especially important when we are hurting. When we are hurting or our youth are hurting, Satan has the perfect opportunity to attack us. Hurt can lead to blame, guilt, and who knows what else Satan can get us with. We desperately need that encouragement, that building up from our fellow Christians so that we can press on. So that we can be reminded over and over that Satan has no hold over us.
Consider St. Paul’s words in Philippians 2:1-3, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
If you are hurting today, take the time to call a friend, one you know who will build you up! Even if you are not hurting right now, you know someone who is, so take the time to pray for any of your youth or congregation members you know are hurting, and pray for that opportunity to offer the encouragement, the comfort that they need, the comfort that is available through Christ.