Sometimes we live in more struggle than victory. Sometimes, though, we get to bask in the mountaintop sunshine. Most of the time, we seem to live with a mixture of both struggle and victory.
Fortunately, for the most part, we each fluctuate at different levels and paces. For example, sometimes my exercise partner encourages me out the door. Other times, I’m forcing her to meet for a run. Sometimes my husband provides stability and help in my busyness; other times, he leans on me.
I remember a time when I did all of the leaning and needed all of the encouraging. I felt so buried in struggle I had no strength to lend to others. What others did for me during that time taught and prepared me for how to be strong for others later.
5 Ways to Be Strong for the Stressed
The following five ways to be strong for the stressed stand out as tremendous helps during my own season of needing to draw strength from my others:
- Encourage. While what encourages differs from one person to the next, finding small ways to encourage others helps them put one foot in front of another. A “praying for you” text or even just an understanding smile from across the room go a long way in encouraging someone when they are struggling.
- Listen. Simply listening to a person talk about struggles helps tremendously. Whether it just allows that person to vent or helps them find solutions, authentic listening truly relieves the intensity of stress.
- Create space. Find ways to help unload the person’s schedule. Take a friend’s kids for the evening or clean her house while she’s at work. Giving the gift of margin creates breathing room that might be just enough to encourage hope for more permanent relief.
- Pray. Often, someone who is overloaded got that way because they refused to allow others to help them. No matter what, you can pray for them. You can let them know you are praying for them. So many times, I could sense extra strength coming through the prayers of those who loved me.
- Create comfort. When stressed out, comfort seems absent and quite distant. Bring a friend coffee or make him a favorite meal or treat. Find out what brings comfort, even if only for a moment.
For the first time in many years, I’m balanced and in rhythm. So many people around me, though, are going through times of intense struggle. I know this will probably change, that I’ll need their strength more and they mine less at some point. But for now, I can take what others did for me and pay it forward.
Strength for Others
Biblical direction for helping strengthen others is abundant, and it supports what proved to be true in my own life.
- Bear burdens (Galatians 6:2)
- Withold judgment (Matthew 7:1-5)
- Let your light shine (Matthew 6:16)
- Have runover available (Luke 6:38)
- Bear with their feelings (Romans 15:1)
- Look at their interests (Philippians 2:4)
- Avoid hindering (Romans 14:13-15:13)
- Show hospitality (Romans 12-13)
- Meet needs (1 John 3:17)
Don’t let being unsure of how to help stop you from trying to encourage another person. It’s not so much the method as it is the effort that encourages anyway. Prayerfully consider today how you God wants you to be strong for the stressed, then take action.