Six Things God Uses to Encourage part 2

Last week, we talked about how the Lord uses scripture to encourage us and I shared a bunch of quotes from the Bible, but it was really just a small sampling compared with what the Lord says that encourages us in His Word. This week, I’d like to talk about two more things God uses to encourage His children.

1. Music is a powerful form of communication that can encourage us.
I’ve talked about this on my Art of Eloquence blog in years past. It’s powerful because it not only uses sight (words) but also uses sound which evokes powerful feelings. Music sets the tone for movies so that without it a scene may not have any impact at all.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” -Colossians 3:16

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” -Acts 16:25

It may seem a strange thing to do to sing songs when you’re in trial – when things seem dark. But it can actually help you express your sadness and then lift you up. Once we are ready, we can sing praises to the Lord assured that God loves us and will help us to get through whatever we are in the midst of. This is why I’ve chosen Wednesdays to share uplifting praise songs on the Life Beyond Surviving Facebook group.

Some songs make us sad as we remember a time gone by in which things were easier or happier or not as difficult. Other songs can give us a hope for the future by reminding us of what God has done, can do, and will do again.

2. Fellowship is another form of encouragement that God gives to us.
God uses fellowship to help us feel connected and to help each other.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” -Matthew 18:20

Since the chronically ill often isolate either by default or by choice, the Life Beyond Surviving Facebook group is a powerful fellowship! This is why I have designated Social Saturday as a time to ask questions of the members of the group so that we can get to know each other better.

I have designated Mondays to share my blog posts in the group with the primary goal of letting members know that they are not alone in how they feel in dealing with their chronic issues.

Next week I’m going to share another thing that God uses to encourage us.

Please follow and like us:

One of the Worst Things to Say to a Believer Who is Hurting-Repost

I want to follow up on my two-part series on Polly Positive to bring you this article I wrote many years ago for my Art of Eloquence communication blog. I was talking about how we communicate with those who are struggling with chronic illness actually affects them, even if the person’s intentions are good. While Polly’s intentions are to bring the person back to Jesus, the timing isn’t right and the message that comes across is quite damaging and, in fact, not biblical:

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” -Proverbs 16:24


I’ve seen it so many times. A sister in the Lord opens up to share a struggle she is going through in the hopes that the fellowship will bring strength to a weary heart. Instead of support, sympathy or understanding, she receives condemnation by well-meaning and faith-filled believers. In place of words of peace and comfort, they rebuke the poor sinner for not having enough faith. They remind her of the mustard seed, how faith can move mountains and how big God is, but what does that do to her suffering? Does it relieve her suffering or does it, in fact, increase it and place the blame squarely on her?

This is actually one of the worst things you can communicate to a believer who is hurting. Why? Because what you’re saying is:

1. Your suffering is your fault

By telling a believer that she doesn’t have enough faith in God, you are telling her that she wouldn’t be suffering if she only had more faith. Since she either doesn’t believe she has little faith or doesn’t see how she can have more, she feels you are telling her that she is ONLY suffering because of her own lack of faith. Essentially, this belittles her suffering. After all, people don’t feel as sorry for those who cause their own suffering as we do for those who are suffering through no fault of their own.

2. You wouldn’t suffer if you only had more faith

After being told she has caused her own suffering through unbelief, the only option given her is more belief. This is sort of like telling someone “Be happy!” Have you ever been upset and been faced with a situation in which you had to go out and put on your happy face? It was difficult, wasn’t it? Magnify that tenfold and think how difficult it would be to put on your happy face after having lost a loved one to cancer or after being faced with financial ruin. Can they do it? I’m sure some could, but what does it require? It usually requires a time of mourning, a time of rebuilding after a period of support and strength that comes from fellowship. Telling someone to have faith after you just told them they didn’t have any, isn’t helpful and it can be a huge detriment to their ability to bounce back after a devastating event.

3. Your suffering is not going to stop until you have more faith

This poor hurting soul who was reaching out for comfort and strength is now frustrated because she is being told that, no matter how the struggle began, it is now her fault, the only cure is more belief and she cannot find an ounce more in her suffering so it’s never going to end. She is now convinced her suffering will go on indefinitely! Struggles are difficult enough when we believe they are somewhat temporary, but when we see no end in sight, struggles take on new depths of sorrow.

We can all build our faith. Even the most faith-filled Christian can become even stronger in the Lord, but this growing in faith usually comes after a period of mourning the loss at the root of the struggle and a period of gathering strength from family, friends and the Lord.

Telling someone their suffering comes from their unbelief is unbiblical. Here are just three examples from scripture:

1. If all suffering comes from not having enough faith, why was Paul suffering?

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” -2 Corinthians 12:7

2. If all suffering can be reversed by having more faith, why wasn’t Paul healed?

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” -2 Corinthians 12:8

3. If Christians are not supposed to discuss their feelings when they are suffering, how can you explain Job?

“Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.” –Job 23:2

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” –Job 42:10

Telling a person who is suffering, especially when the suffering is new, that they simply need more faith is not only unhelpful, but it can frustrate and depress the person even further. This is where more communication skill is needed. Be careful at this vulnerable time in this believer’s life that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29

Please share your comments, thoughts, and experiences here.  I’d love to hear from you.

Please follow and like us:

Change Your Terminology

Chronic illness is not only isolating because it takes away some amount of our ability to get out and do things. It is also isolating because it’s not understood. WE are not understood. It came to my attention last month that this could be partially our own fault. Now, before you look for that stone to cast in my general direction, please read on.

How many times have you not told someone how you really feel for fear of being told you’re “complaining?” How many times have you under-reported to your friends and family how MUCH you hurt? How tired you REALLY are? Part of what I’ve shared here is not to talk about our issues too much with those who don’t understand it in order to minimize the frustration that comes from being questioned, grilled really, or told we don’t look sick or are making mountains out of molehills.

However, recently I reflected on my training in speech communication. The titles of most of my communication studies start out, “Say What You Mean…” and I wondered if there is a need to do that in our chronic life. Maybe it’s time we started saying what WE mean.

Replace Overused Terms
I’m really tired today” sounds like every Tom, Dick, and Mary who had a tough day yesterday. “I’m REALLY tired.” doesn’t sound much better. How many times have you heard someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness say that? What about when YOU said that and had someone reply with, “Yeah, I worked late last night.” It suddenly occurred to me that uttering overused terms might be part of the reason we aren’t taken as seriously when we try to share how we feel with those who don’t have the same point of reference for chronic illness as we do.

Terms like tired and pain have been used to mean anything from “I was up late studying last night” and “I cut myself shaving” to “I’m too exhausted to take a shower” and “I had my wisdom teeth out without benefit of novocaine!” Instead, it might be better to…

Be More Specific
In some cases, it might be better to use more specific terms. Even words like exhausted, worn out, and run down are overused. Often it’s more descriptive to use words the medical profession refers to like weak or fatigued. Pain can be referred to by the scale of 1-10 as it is by most chronic illness physicians.

At Other Times, it’s Better to Spell Things Out
Let’s face it, even exhausted doesn’t describe how we feel. Sometimes it’s best to give a short example of how tired we are that illustrates better what we deal with. “I’m so exhausted, I had to rest after taking a shower.” “I wake up feeling like I can’t get out of bed.

Another way to describe your pain is with the specific word for the type of pain you are experiencing: ache, twinge, throb, sharp pain, stabbing pain, or excruciating pain.

Don’t Use Terms That Don’t Mean Anything to Them
Lastly, though we who have these conditions know what they are, many who don’t have never even heard of the name of it let alone what it means for those who struggle with it.

While most people probably have heard of Fibro or Chrones, or Lupus, they have no idea what it means. Many people think Fibromyalgia is just pain and I don’t think many have any idea what Chrones or Lupus is at all. In some cases, it makes sense to give a good friend or close relative a more in-depth description of your illness or situation in order for them to be of more support. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time conversing or being with a person, it makes sense to give them the tools to understand why you may not feel up to getting together.

Some conditions are much less known that even the name of it isn’t ringing any bells for most people. I never heard of Essential Tremor until I was diagnosed with it. Not only is Essential Tremor not descriptive, but it’s counter-intuitive. Sounds like something you NEED. lol

Another term neurologists use is Benign Essential Tremor. Benign? Try living with shaking so bad you stab yourself in the eye trying to put on mascara or spill hot coffee on your lap! Instead of using the specific medical diagnosis, I often refer to it as tremors or as a neurological disorder.

In the case of Fibro, it’s more descriptive to use the term, Central Nervous System disease. That gives it the proper respect for the havoc it causes in the lives of Fibro Warriors and the kinds of issues we need to deal with on a daily basis.

Finally, the term chronic illness, itself, isn’t fully understood by most people. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me if I’m all better now. It amazes me, but people don’t get the chronic part of chronic illness.

Chronic means there is NO Cure and the best that can be hoped for, without a miracle of God, is for it to be managed. Believe it or not, that is something that must be explained from time to time. People who don’t live with a chronic issue have no frame of reference for this. To them, long-term is a few months at most.

I pray this has ministered to your soul. I pray that this helps you get across to those in your life who need to know what your chronic illness means for you and I pray that it allows you more support from family and friends.

Please follow and like us: