There’s one thing that people see as a huge flaw in the church or in Christian community as a whole, that being how it feels so fake.
Because everything, and everyone, has to be alright. There is no room for problems – God’s love casts out all sin. There is no room for being disheartened – we delight in our infirmities. There is no room for loneliness – God promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. And God forbid if you’re mad at Him – who are you to question what God does in your life? Remember – all things work together for good. Yes, God is the answer to every problem, but that shouldn’t be a reason to ignore that problems exist.
I found myself struggling with this very thing. When someone is down, I run over to them, trying to do everything to make them feel better. Especially if they’re a Christian, I’m praying with them, throwing truths at them, making sure they understand that there’s no reason to be sad. That they should look up to the sky and thank God for everything they are blessed with. But if I have learned anything from going through stuff myself, it’s that sometimes the best healer isn’t preaching, or reminding someone of what they already know but cannot see or feel. It’s allowing them to be discouraged, showing them a safe space to be vulnerable, and giving them the time they need to go through it with God.
It’s not my responsibility to bring them up, neither am I obligated to keep trying until I see a smile. It’s the Spirit who heals, not my words or my insufficient attempts to make them laugh.
It looks different for everyone. Some people may jump at the encouragement and feel so blessed that God called you over to speak to them and love on them that way. Sometimes, however, it has the very opposite effect: condemning rather than uplifting, cheapening their hurt and pain rather than verifying it. God’s grace wasn’t meant to be a strait jacket that constricts us from feeling any kind of discouragement, or from being human, but rather it gives us the freedom to change. Time and time again David talks about his depression, about how far God feels from him, and how his hope has almost left. Only a couple chapters later he is praising God and how good and faithful He is. Even Paul writes in frustration how he keeps returning to his old ways, even though he doesn’t want to. But he returns to how good God is, and how wonderful His grace is.
Lesson learned: Encouragement is empty if not paired with patience, patience worthless if not paired with empathy, and empathy is only found through seeing their heart, and that is best done with God.