Strength and Encouragement

Scripture Readings:
2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

This coming Monday, on Memorial Day, I will begin my duties as an on-call, volunteer chaplain, for St. Mary’s hospital here in Athens, Ga. I am excited about this new opportunity to serve God in ways that will be far different than what I have experienced so far. And, I must admit, that I am also a bit nervous about this opportunity that God has placed before me. Trying to bring comfort and peace to people in an emergency room setting is far different than the church setting or other health care settings. Being called upon to minister to someone that has just lost a loved one suddenly can be challenging.

Starting tomorrow, I will be on-call for seven days from 4:30pm until 8am. I could be called to the hospital several times during the week or could possibly not receive any calls. When called, I am asked to try to make it to the hospital within 15 minutes. There is little or no time to prepare, you just wake up and drive as quickly as you can to the hospital. When I arrive at the hospital, I am to check in with the nursing supervisor on duty in the emergency room, and that person will inform me as to why I have been called. I could be there for an hour or two or all night.

My wife and I have been talking about my fears and anxieties, regarding this volunteer opportunity, this past week. She reminded me that I have always talked about how I feel God’s presence with me when preaching, teaching, or especially when ministering to other people. When I don’t know, or can’t come up with the right words or the right prayer to say, the Holy Spirit always helps me to say the right things in order to bring peace and comfort to that person. My wife reminded me that God’s presence will be with me as I minister to people in this new setting as well.

In the gospels, we find countless examples of Jesus ministering to those who were sick with various diseases and to those people who were suffering. Jesus had compassion on people, especially those whom society had cast aside. Jesus was concerned with healing the person both physically and spiritually. While on earth, Jesus gave us many examples of how to minister to others, as followers of Christ. In the gospel of John, Jesus says to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” (John 14:12). Jesus was about to go back to the Father in heaven, and the Holy Spirit would be sent to provide strength and guidance, to anyone who continues to carry out the work of Christ.

Is there something in your own life that God is calling you to do, in order to bring comfort and encouragement to someone that is hurting, either physically or spiritually? Is so, take comfort in knowing that Christ has promised us that the Holy Spirit will help us, and will be with us, as we continue the work that Jesus calls each of us to do. Jesus loved people, and in his ministry we see so many examples of compassion and encouragement just when it was needed the most. And that is what we are called to give as followers of Christ. Jesus promises us that if we will just open ourselves up to help others that we will be strengthened through the Holy Spirit, in order to bring glory to God’s holy name.

2 Thessalonians 3:3-4: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow! Thanks be to God for giving us the strength to do the work that we are called to do as followers of Christ.

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