“On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,”
Have you ever tried to encourage someone who was intent on feeling sorry for themselves? It is difficult to get them to see beyond themselves. All they see is what they don’t have, who has hurt them or how unfortunate they are. All the coaxing in the world will not get them out of their funk. Sometimes, you just have to be like Job’s friends who showed up and just sat with him (Job 2:13).
In the second chapter of Haggai, he is going to deliver a message of encouragement to the people. The date he mentions, the 21st day of the seventh month, happens to be the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles when Israel is supposed to be dwelling in structures outside and praising God for all He has done for them. It was the time to gather in the harvest and celebrate it. For the Israelites, however, they were discouraged due to the lack of the harvest and no temple in which to celebrate. Haggai has his work cut out for him.
So, how do you encourage someone? Well, all I know to do is to point them to Jesus. We do have instructions in His Word. I am thinking of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”
You see, it’s not our words that do anything. We just have to be present and show His comfort. His comfort is always perfect. We can’t force this on anyone, but we can be there when the time is right. Just as Haggai was given a message from God to deliver to the people, He will give us the words to say at just the right time. He promises that.
I am thankful that God can use me like that. One of the greatest opportunities of ministry for me has been to comfort friends and family in the loss of loved ones. I have been there. I have lost both my parents, a child and a brother. I have grieved with my wife in the loss of her parents. Just be there. You don’t have to go with a prepared speech. Let the Spirit guide you in the words He has for you. You have a message for them. It’s one of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ.
Father of compassion and God of all comfort, comfort those around me who are in need of mercy right now.