I remember brother J today. Everyone knew him in the church we attended many years ago. He was an encourager.
If he knew of someone with a need, he wouldn’t rest until he met it or until he got someone who could.
He wasn’t a pastor, but most people thought he was. He visited. He counseled. He prayed for people.
No one could miss church two weeks in a row without having brother J visit him.
He was one smiling, energetic brother who was always smiling and available. He didn’t seem to have a care in the world.
As busy as he always was in helping people, I never heard him complain about anyone. I had seen him respond to the most abrasive insults with good natured jokes and sweet laughter.
I returned from a trip and noticed that brother J wasn’t in church. I asked some of his ‘friends’ why, and they couldn’t give me a definite answer.
One said maybe he had travelled to see his family. Another said maybe he was busy doing something important. All I got was maybes, and more maybes from his ‘besties.’
I asked some guys who had been helped by brother J, and they couldn’t tell me anything useful. Even those in leadership couldn’t tell me anything important.
During the week, I decided to look for brother J. It took me two days to find his house. I was terribly shocked. This gracious brother was living in the most inhospitable condition.
A boy showed me his room, the room he used to live in.
Brother J had died four months earlier.
None of his brethren was aware. Not even those he helped.
This gracious brother had fallen on hard times in the past eighteen months and had lost so much. This made him to move to this terrible neighborhood of gangs, living in unsanitary conditions.
He had been asthmatic, but his trials and living conditions seemed to aggravate his ill health.
Brother J was sick, and was in his room for a week. He died in that room.
The boy that took me to his room told me brother J sent him to one of the brothers in his church group at the height of his sicknes. That one said he would tell the others. My investigation revealed that he told a couple of people and they all agreed to visit him sometime. They never did.
His neighbors took his body to the morgue and did what they could to find his extended family members.
Brother J had been quietly forgotten by the people he loved.
Brethren, don’t ever think that the people around you who seem to be very strong don’t need encouragement.
The brethren who neglected brother J were probably good people who took his strength for granted. You know that smooth presumption that makes you think, “I know it’s too late and daddy should be home by now, but I am sure he can take care of himself. Let’s go to sleep.”
They believed brother J was usually fine, and would be fine this time, too.
Encouragers need encouragement. To encourage you, they sometimes have to ignore their own troubles, which may be much bigger than yours.
You may think they are very rich, but they may have issues in their lives that money cannot handle.
You may think they are always happy, but they are only smiling for you. They may be trying to lift you up while they are down.
Those who are strong for others sometimes need someone to be strong for them.
The people you go to when you feel like giving up on life… when you are neck deep in financial or marital challenges, who leave everything to spend hours with you on the phone, pray with you, visit you and nurse your battered confidence back to health…
Your mother, father, brother or priest may be the strongest person you have ever known. What they have shielded v from hit them hard, and left some marks on them.
You don’t know about these because they chose not to tell you.
Sometimes the little errors they commit are due to the pressures on them. You sometimes judge them too harshly because you haven’t been where they have been.
I call on you today to encourage your encouragers.
Call them and thank them. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell them you have not taken them for granted, and then pray for them.
Some of us are alive today because of those who left their challenges to attend to our troubles.
Do not abandon your brother J. He is probably battling a giant right now that a word from you can help him defeat. Letting him know you care for him may be all he or she needs to hear.
Don’t be offended if he seems to have withdrawn from you. He is probably hiding his challenges from you, not wanting to burden you with his troubles.
Encourage your encourager.