Six Things God Uses to Encourage Part 5

This week we’re wrapping up my series based on the Six Things God Uses to Encourage in one of the sermons by Charles Stanley. We’ve talked about God’s Word, Music and Fellowship, Thankfulness, and Humor. This week, I’d like to talk about the last one, Prayer.

Prayer isn’t just a way to communicate with the Father, but it can be a way in which He encourages us. This is especially important when we are struggling in trial–particularly a trial that is chronic.

Not only can we pray to the Creator when we are in need, but we can pray to commune with the Lord to hear His voice that will guide us and encourage us not to give up and that He allows the things He does for a higher purpose. Knowing this can help us to accept things that we cannot change, keep strong for things we can change, and encourage us along the way no matter what is going on because our home is not of this earth but in Heaven.

It may be hard to feel the Lord near to you when you’re in the midst of a trial, but the more you look around and see all He has put here for you to encourage you, the more you will feel Him near and that is a HUGE encouragement!

For this reason, I encourage the Life Beyond Surviving Facebook group to share their prayer requests each Sunday (and at any time a member has a need). Sunday is already a day of rest and to commune with the Lord so Sundays are a day we pray for each other on the group.

If you are on Facebook and would like to join us, we’d love to fellowship and pray with you. I pray you have found some encouragement from this series.

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Six Things God Uses to Encourage Part 4

We’ve been exploring six ways in which the Lord encourages those of us with chronic illness/conditions. We’ve discussed the Word of God, Music, Fellowship, and Thankfulness. This week, I’d like to talk about Humor!

I have always loved humor. It’s become part of my personality. I even enjoy the dreaded pun and I adore making others laugh. What I discovered is that the more difficulties I face, the more important humor is to me. It has a way of disarming the anxiety and adding lightheartedness to an otherwise dreary day of fatigue and pain. Humor has gotten me through a ton of difficulties as I’ve found that God usually hides a little humor inside the struggle.

“A cheerful heart is a good medicine.”—Proverbs 17:22

I didn’t realize it until I started looking, but there is a lot of humor in the Bible. God invented humor as a release, a way of teaching, and a way of coping with the difficult things in our lives. I read a great article about how God uses humor in His Word.

Here’s are a couple of passages from that article:

“But I think Hebrews 11:12 is the funniest verse in the Bible: ‘Therefore there was born even of [Abraham], and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars in heaven …’ (emphasis mine, NASB).”

“Of course God’s humor is never cruel the way humans twist it to be at times. In fact, God is entirely pure and untainted, thus so is his humor. Such a God inspired the author of Proverbs to write, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful” (15:13), or seen from the opposite point of view in verse 30, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Aren’t you glad?”

This is why I share humor and create funny memes to share here and on my Facebook group, Life Beyond Surviving.

Humor is a gift God gives us to help us through the difficult times. What humor have you found hidden inside your struggles?

Come back again next week when I’ll share about how prayer is another thing that God gives us to encourage us.

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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.

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What CAN you do? – Part 3

This month, I’ve been sharing my four-step process for getting past the thoughts all chronic illness sufferers think: here’s all I CAN’T do. First, I shared about how to find ways to think less about what we can’t do and more about what we CAN do. Last week, I shared how you can ask yourself about what you’re doing now that you can put more of your energy toward. This week, I’m going to share how you can find ways to do for your immediate family and friends.

Just as everyone has a unique set of talents given them by God, each also has a unique set of limitations given to them by chronic illness. Despite whatever limitations you may have, there are things you CAN do for your family and friends that you may not have thought about before. Now, some of these things you may not think are important, but I guarantee you they are to your family and friends! Here’s what you CAN do for family and friends:

1.Being an example:
I’ve read that it isn’t what happens to us that matters, it’s how we react. I’ve written about this principle in many of my Art of Eloquence communication materials because it isn’t the fact that you mess up a speech. It’s how you handle that mistake that people react to. People forgive even a colossal mistake you make toward them if you handle it by apologizing and seeking to make it right. This principle is even more powerful when you deal with trials by trying to find the good inside them.

You can be an example in your job, to your kids, at church, in your ministry, in your business, through your artwork and writing or blogging, to your social media connections, and with those, you come in contact with.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told how I inspire others by my outlook on life despite having lived through so many medical, financial, and other trials.

2.Pointing out the joys
I have made it one of my life’s missions to point out the fun, humor, and joy in the things I see or experience. Being uplifting isn’t only or always just showing the beauty of God’s world, but can be just giving the world that is full of tragedy and trials just a glimmer of beauty, or a little giggle.

It’s a gift God has given me to see the humor in things. So, I create memes and post them on social media with the lighter side of the trials I go through and the funny side of almost anything that I see.

If you don’t have the inclination for humor, why not post pictures of the beauty that is in this world? You can share them from anywhere you are and bring a little joy into this fallen world that is filled with darkness and tragedy.

I can’t tell you how much a little giggle can mean to someone who has had a tough day…or someone who has had a death in the family. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s true. I ran a very large Facebook fan page. All I did was post purple memes and pictures every day. That’s all.! I have received private messages from fans telling me how my little purple memes helped them through their husband’s death. Their husband’s DEATH! My little purple pictures in the midst of their grief meant that much to them. Facebook recently took away my admin status about a month ago. I haven’t been able to post since. However, that page has grown by over 200 fans and I continue to get messages from fans who miss my posts!

3.Sharing your artistic talents: writing, artwork
If the Lord has given you a talent for writing or painting or drawing or calligraphy, this can bring so much joy to others! Post your work on social media. Start a group or fan page for it! Invite others over to see your craft work. Put it on YouTube.

I had a friend here in Indiana. I met her a short time before she moved away, but she had an incredible talent for music. She wrote piano instrumental music for the glory of God and it was gorgeous! She shared it once as worship before church service and she invited me over to hear her play several of her works. I was going through a tough time then, but for a few hours, I was inspired!

You have been blessed with some talent. Explore it. Share it. Both you and those you share it with will be blessed!

Next week, I’ll be back with the final post in this series.

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