Encouragement Sandwich.

Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

If you spent any amount of time in church or around Christians then there is no doubt that you have probably heard this verse; it usually comes after you tell someone about a difficulty you’ve been having in your life:

Person 1: “So yeah, I ended up losing my job and have no food on my table for me or my family.”

Person 2: “Wow, that’s rough.  Remember what the Bible says, ‘I can do all this through him who gives me strength’.  You may seem defeated now, but you’ll bounce back.”

Words meant for comfort sometimes end up hurting more than helping.  How many of the people who are giving these words have ever been in the same situation that you’re in?  How many of them have dealt with the things you have to deal with?  How did they feel when someone told them, you’ll make it!  I understand the premise of the words – the reason the words are given, but a lot of times it doesn’t really help.  I’ve been guilty countless times of doing the same.  The guy doesn’t need just encouragement – he needs a sandwich, too!

A lot of times we assume that God is going to take care of those in need, and all we have to do is offer up some words now and again.  I’ll do the speaking, God will take care of the rest.  Where is the sandwich going to come from?  Yes, God can make food appear.  It’s in the Bible countless times – both old and new testaments.  So often we wait for God to take care of those in need when in actuality he’s given us all the necessary tools to help & take care of those in need.  He wants to help – through us!

A question I’ve been asking a lot of people that I meet in church is this: do you think people should attend services before they receive help from your church?  I get a mix of answers, from yes to no to it depends on the situation.  And I can’t wrap my head around the last two.  The church should be giving, giving, giving to everyone – members, non-members, Christmas-time members, frequenters, and people who have never ever stepped foot inside their door.  Never once did Jesus say, “I’d be more than willing to help you, but first I want you to come listen to me next Sunday…what?  Yes, I realize that it’s Tuesday and your rent is due on Thursday.  But you’ll benefit from the message.”  Jesus helped first and talked later.  He knew the seriousness of the situations and he understood that meeting the immediate needs were a stepping stone to meeting the other needs of the person.

When you hear of needs, maybe our knee-jerk reaction to answer those needs should be the right answer.  I know from experience that people who have helped me out have done it not because they wanted credit, or they knew that it would bring me closer to God – they knew I had a need and they met that need.  There were no questions, “So, after I gave you that money, did you go back to church?”   When we help people, the immediate needs lead to the deeper issues, to God.  By all means, offer up words of encouragement, but if they need food then give them food!

much love. sheth.