It’s a simple statement, but it surprised me. I first heard it during a mission trip, spoken by a woman leading a ministry in the midst of profound material poverty.
“Everyone can do something, and it is imperative that you allow them to do so.” She continued, “In any situation there are helpers, supporters and encouragers. Helpers act, supporters support their work, encouragers encourage those who are acting and supporting. Everyone can do something.”
Everyone can do something.
In our present situation, there are many who are helping—our first responders, medical personnel, those keeping essential services and stores open. They are engaged in direct service. Families, back office procurement, and others, are supporting their efforts, doing work that is necessary, but not seen, keeping things going so the helpers can do their work. Less visible still, but no less important are the encouragers, those who pray, call, write, post words of encouragement. Manageable, doable actions, sustain the underlying foundational capacity to live and cope with the stress around us.
Scripture tells us that one of its most important gifts is encouragement. One of God’s most important acts is encouragement. Encouragement offers hope.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another. Romans 15:4-5
In that spirit, your church will continue to offer places to help, support and encourage. You may be a helper on the front lines. There is an opportunity where you can help by providing food, or picking up food. Your plate may be full supporting someone who is helping, caring for children, parents or others. Others can support by making masks, organizing food drives, delivering a meal to a back porch. We all can offer encouragement, we all can pray, and those prayers are critical for hope.
The corollary to “everyone can do something” is “no one can do everything.” Given that each of these components are critically important, the work of encouragement, especially in this time, is vitally necessary, for it leads to hope.
It is often my privilege to receive notes from people who receive the prayer shawls we send out. Often they are from people I don’t know, who don’t know us, yet speak about the difference the prayer shawl made for them.
In the notes that you may write, a stranger may to write to a stranger, but within those words is power. Take a moment to give thanks for their work and offer encouragement. Pray for the helpers and the supporters. Acts of gratitude make us a bit more thankful for the world around us: a gift, a blessing and encouragement! The work of the Holy Spirit is never a one-way street.
Paul’s epistle to the Romans concludes “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Amen, and may it be so.