It was a simple, “little chamber,” a small guest room furnished with “a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick,” certainly nothing considered fancy or extravagant. This “great woman” of Shunem constrained her husband to prepare this oasis, this prophet’s chamber of sorts, for the prophet Elisha, that he might have a place to rest and to regroup while traversing the land as a faithful proclaimer of the Word of God. In spite of the fiery-preaching, miracle-working ministry of Elisha, this was a dark time in the northern kingdom of Israel, a moment in history when nineteen consecutive evil kings would lead Israel downhill on the destructive path of idolatry. Turning away from the God of their forefathers would eventually prove lethal for the nation of Israel, but Elisha remained faithful to sound the warning bell to God’s beloved people. But truth be told, Elisha was human and subject to the same discouragement that besets us. What an amazing blessing that this unnamed, well-to-do woman would find the compassion in her heart to serve as an encouragement to another! Her reward in heaven must be surely great.
As my husband and I struggled to keep our spirits up during the grim month of December, I gained a whole new perspective in regards to the ministry of encouragement. I remember with moist eyes the day I returned home from getting my husband settled into the hospital only to find a small basket containing chicken-bone broth, some oranges, and soup perched on my doorstep. Then there would be that snowy afternoon when magazines, a puzzle, and some coloring pages mysteriously found their way to my abode. A tap on the door on a Sunday afternoon would bring rice pudding and some well-needed cough drops, and two Walmart deliveries would fill our pantry with an ample supply of soup, crackers, snacks, and peanut butter. Then there was that bitterly cold afternoon when a strange car would appear in our driveway with a trunk full of groceries…thirteen bags of love to be delivered to two discouraged, weary souls.
Without encouragement, we can be easily overwhelmed by the very real pains of life. When caught in the crosshairs of trials and tribulation, our spiritual strength can wane when encouragement is lacking. During those long days when we struggle to find the strength to stand, the strong arms of a Christian brother or sister can restore hope, instill love, and provide the will to endure. I have had an up-close seat in viewing the comfort that others can supply on my behalf, and how that comfort can strengthen me for the battle in which I find myself. And as a recipient of that encouragement, I have been gently reminded of the urgency of allowing God to whisper the name of another into my ear, acting upon that nudging from my Father, and finding a tangible way of lifting another’s load and refocusing their eyes toward the God Who loves them.
I could never find the words to sufficiently thank those whom God has used to hearten me, but I can pray for the spiritual fortitude to mirror the actions of that nameless Shunammite woman, a woman who found a tangible way to brighten another’s path. God help me to be sensitive to the needs of those around me, to allow God to use me as His arm of encouragement to another. Truly, “Two ARE better than one…for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.” I have had the awesome experience of being the one lifted up, help me now to be the one doing the lifting.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-3775-62b69b6ac4e99' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=3775&origin=wordpress.grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-3775-62b69b6ac4e99' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-3775-62b69b6ac4e99' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>