Anyone can become discouraged.
Faithful men and women of God. Children. Housewives. Husbands. Pastors, fathers, brothers, sisters. Sunday school teachers, farmers, bankers, lawyers, nurses….on and on. Everyone and anyone can and will become discouraged in life.
So often when we think of discouragement, we think of it in regards to how to deal with it in our own hearts – and that’s important, I know. But just for a minute I’d like to think about how we deal with the discouragement (even depression) of those around us. How do we respond when it’s obvious someone in our life is struggling with this? Can we even recognize it in them? Do we secretly condemn them? Do we sort of scoot away from them, as if it’s contagious and we have to wait it out in a corner until they ‘get over it’? Do we hem and haw because we don’t know how to deal with it?
These two verses immediately came to my mind when I began thinking of this:
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
First, we know the merry heart does us good, but have we ever thought of trying to create a merry heart in someone else? I’m not saying make light of their depression. Sometimes someone joking around and acting silly in an attempt to lighten another’s mood can make it worse. There are other ways to create a merry heart in someone though. You can lighten someone’s burden, and help them in this area.
And the second verse, well I know it refers ultimately to Jesus Christ being our friend that sticks closer to us than even a brother. However, aren’t we called ‘Christians’? Doesn’t that mean ‘little christs’? So aren’t WE supposed to try to be that friend for others too? We can’t be exactly like Jesus of course…but aren’t we striving to reflect Him in our lives? That would include being a Christ-like friend to others, wouldn’t it.
So here’s a few thoughts I had about dealing with someone who is discouraged:
- Don’t withdraw. Like I said earlier, be that friend that sticks close. Don’t always require your friends to entertain you. There are times when you need to bring someone up in their spirits, you need to be the friend they need to have, sometimes.
- Praise them in truth – don’t use empty words. What I mean is, find something you can say about them, and to them, that’s positive. Don’t make it obvious, don’t make it false praise, don’t overdo it either. Just honest, sincere words of praising something that you’ve seen them do – some way they’ve been a blessing to you.
- Don’t give up on them. Give them some way to reach out to their fellow man. Give them a project, sort of. Take them out and DO something for someone else…but do it together. We tell discouraged people to do this all the time – focus on someone else for awhile. Well, sometimes they need a little help from a friend.
- In short, BE a friend.