May the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us" – these words from a much-loved fantasy novel are quoted often, in various circumstances. You might find them helpful now, if you find that your lifestyle or regular habits have been restricted. Try, if you can, to think of this time, perhaps normally allocated to doing something else, as a gift: a gift for yourself, yes, but also a gift you can give to others
What might you do with this time? Have you perhaps got a project that you've been meaning to tackle for a while, that you are suddenly able to begin now? Can you see any opportunities for personal growth at this time? There is an opportunity to do something which could make all the difference in the world to our brothers and sisters who like us are going through this difficult time. We can offer them the gift of encouragement.
St Paul thought the world of encouragement, as these words from the opening chapter of his second letter to the Corinthians in the New American translation make clear:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
Even when we are socially distancing ourselves, or in social isolation, we can encourage. The mobile phone is a great tool for encouragement. We can send an email, or a text and maybe attach a photo…Better still, we can phone a relative, a friend, someone we’ve been meaning to speak to for ages. If there’s someone in the same apartment block whom you know to be lonely and possibly afraid, somehow or other, let them know you care about them. Giving someone your time and your ear, just listening: that’s the best encouragement of all. Why, if we all came together that much more, and supported each other as we go through this difficult time, some good will come out of it.
For a moment, let’s be still in the presence of the Lord who loves us very much …. and pray for those who are suffering … and those who are looking after them … is there someone I can encourage today?
And finally let’s listen to some of those words of St Paul once again:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.