on a crisp spring morning
Three exhortations leap off the page. My pencil draws them back there, nailing them down tight to my heart.
Encourage the fainthearted. These days I am so faint of heart. The sharp edges of this world have scraped my soul raw. Daggers pierce, wounds fester. How can I give from the shallows? Paul, too, must have been fainthearted. Years of ministry had left him spent. Beatings and chains, not to mention that mysterious thorn (2 Cor. 12:7-9). He had witnessed fighting among the brethren and the Gospel compromised. Surely Paul was weary, yet he encouraged.
Help the weak. To bare our weaknesses is a sign of...well, weakness. This photo-shopped, pixel-perfect world has no place for the broken. Am I the only one cowering behind the guise of an ideal life, afraid to lift the veil and let others peer into reality? Pride is a cruel taskmaster that keeps me from admitting the truth of my imperfection. It robs me of the joy of helping others; I make no offers because who needs help from a weakened wretch like me?
Be patient. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, a variety I rarely possess. Annoyances light the short fuse in my heart. Words, like sparks, fly out. I can't retrieve them before they burn. Grace. I expect too much and offer too little. Patience requires a heart that is willing to wait, and I don't like to. My internal clock has been reset to the rapid rhythms of the world.
As I ponder Paul's words, I realize that these are the very things the church needs today. The lack of encouragement, help, and patience among believers is glaring. I am the first who should be condemned.
The leather feels cool against my hand as I close the cover. I pull back the blankets to start the day, praying for the Lord's grace to be more encouraging, helpful, and patient as I go.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
- 1 Thess. 5:14