Friday, November 14, 2014

Feed the Hungry

(Submitted By Kerry Patton)

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…
…don’t say anything at all.”  I’ve known a few persons that if they lived by this simple proverb, they’d likely never say another word.  They just have nothing nice to say.  They’re hyper-critical, deeply jaded, and worse; seem loaded for bear anytime there is an opportunity to drop an atom-bomb of negativity.

Feeling the frustrations of the American scrutiny toward his Presidency, Lyndon B. Johnson is credited with having said: “If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: ‘President Can’t Swim.’”  Wow.  That’s tough!

Tell me, have you ever been hungry for encouragement? Not compliments. Encouragement. I’ll tell you that I have.  No, it wasn’t that I was experiencing esteem problems. It seemed that I had a mission problem.  I didn’t know how to keep going. I had lost my motivation.  Why do we sometimes get this way?

Well, I’ve observed that from time to time, life is simply just a beating!  Have you been there?  There are times when you’ve poured your heart and energy into your world and find yourself exhausted – mentally and physically, looking around and feeling like no one really cares.  Whether they do or not is not the point.  It’s how you feel.  Perhaps a project or task has run on and on until it seems like it’s never going to end.  I had one gentleman tell me that he just wanted to feel like what he was doing really mattered.  “I’ve lost sight of the prize…” he said.  “It seems like I’m just going through the motions.”  We can come to this place in a number of parts of life: our jobs, our marriages, or our walk with the Lord… Yes, even there.

Here’s the Pitch: 
At any given moment on any given day, we may find ourselves surrounded by people who are starving for encouragement.  I’ve been there, and it’s very likely you have as well…and we have what they need: Encouragement.  Uplifting.  Hope.  A kind word delivered with a smile.  Are we going to hold it back?  Will we keep it to ourselves, or will we feed the hungry?

Galatians 6:9-10 shows that God is aware that our hearts can grow tired of the chase: Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” NASV  We see here that we are not merely doing good for the sake of doing good, but we are doing good “TO all people.”  Loving people, through our words, our actions, the investing of our time and attention in others…encouraging THEM.  Ephesians 5:18b-19 encourages us to: “…be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord…” One of the things I enjoy most about my partner in pastoral care – Donnie O’Fallon, is that he is always prepared with an encouraging word from the scriptures.  In fact, he says that he prepares for this every morning.  He seeks out that word of encouragement from the Word of God that he might have a word to share with whomever he encounters!  I love that!  It’s very much like he goes to his pantry saying to himself “Okay, today I’m going to encounter hungry people.  What will I give them to eat?”

·      People are hungry for encouragement. 
·      Feed the hungry...And feed them the Bread of Life!
There is something very special happening in our culture these days.  We are remembering how to say “Thank you.” I’m seeing it more and more. Soldiers are coming home from the Middle East and large groups of people are gathering at the airport to cheer and applaud them as they arrive.  People are stopping policemen and firemen and telling them how much they are appreciated. Essentially – “Everyday, you put your life on the line for our city.  I appreciate that and I thank you.  Thank you so much!”  I see first responders and soldiers in cafĂ©’s and restaurants and other patrons will pay their lunch ticket for them as an expression of thanks. 

I’ve been at dinner with Paul and Didi Wright before Paul retired, and if he happened to be wearing his Air Force service uniform, it was not uncommon for persons to come up to our table and thank him for serving.  These individuals are very visible to us.  But there are others around us who are virtually invisible. Oh, we see them all the time, but don’t *see them*.  I’m speaking of coworkers, our spouses, our children, our parents, check-out clerks, grocery sackers, secretaries, garbage collectors, postal workers, the servers at the diner…and on and on.  Stop them.  Look into their eyes and tell them: “I appreciate everything that you do.  Thank you for serving and helping us!”
To the struggling or hurting, the wounded and weary…and you don’t have to look hard to find them.  They are everywhere!  To these, speak from your own story of survival.  “I know these days are hard.  I’ve been there myself.  I didn’t think I would survive, but I did.  Tell me your name and I will pray with you and for you.  You’re going to make it through this.  Keep moving.  Keep swimming.  Don’t stop.  You are almost there!”

They’re out there…everywhere.  Go feed the hungry.

Almighty God, make me an encourager. Fill me with your words of help and hope. Open my eyes to see those around me who are falling and failing, and help me be bold to speak and lift them up.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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