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There are times in life when we each need encouragement—a few kind words, a loving smile, a card expressing concern, or a hand held out when the world knocks us down and we put up a wall of defense against further pain. During this COVID-19 pandemic, it seems too many of us are in a similar situation… stuck at home, having lost a job or looking for work, unsure of what’s next. Despite all we face, we can become the encourager to others who have been defeated by what the world has thrown their way because we have felt the comfort and blessing of deep caring.

I’m going to admit that retiring recently is not what I expected when planning, feeling as though I’ve failed us. I looked forward to my director’s plan to hire me back part-time, but at the last minute learned he could not do that. I tried my hand as a checkout for our local grocery, and discovered life had caught up with me faster than expected. I can’t stand for hours—my legs and back hurt, and I felt weak and washed up. The ladies training me and the owner were most gracious, saying that I had given it a good try and not to feel badly that I couldn’t handle it.

Going for testing last week, feeling discouraged about looking for and not finding part-time employment that I could handle, my stress apparently showed more than I realized. The woman at the registration desk was so caring to a complete stranger. She herself had retired but needed to return to work full time, and understood. She embodied compassion, giving me a hug, lifting me up with her loving words of kindness.

I write well for my historical and devotional blogs, or so I’ve been told, yet haven’t seen a fit in paid opportunities. I applied for medical voice recognition transcription editing jobs from home, my expertise! After more than a week, feeling discouraged, I finally received one response for an interview today, but now have multiple sewing orders to handle! God answered all our prayers in bountiful ways I never expected!

Because, feeling God’s nudge with doing something I love, sewing, I began making handbags and actually selling them, with orders coming in for them and more face masks! It’s definitely not a “get-rich-quick” idea, but it’s something I enjoy. The best part of this entire process, that which has uplifted me, has been all the encouragement… something I did not expect, but which showed me how much each friend and stranger truly cares. 

And isn’t that what a genuine friend does? There’s a deep understanding between true friends… sometimes words are not even necessary to pass between them. Sometimes great lengths of time pass by, yet you pick up again as if there’d never been a long pause for the busyness of life. You each know and appreciate what the other is going through, and quietly reach out to touch the life of the one who’s hurting. 

Friends allow you space, sharing words of healing and encouragement, not demanding time and attention. And within that bond, a silent strength is passed through the touch, the hug, the smile, the card, and the hand held out... something I've enjoyed doing for friends and strangers, and which is now returning when I became discouraged.

It’s the same with our Lord. He’s there, ready to listen to our cry, eager to assist us… “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) I also like the Psalms when my heart is hurting and seeking, reading in Psalm 16:8, “I have set the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” And Psalm 23:4 expresses our heart when in deepest distress: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  

I love the image of a shepherd caring for his sheep…guiding and leading with his rod and curved staff as he protects them. Just as I cared for Lambie in my teens, so it was for the psalmist David, the shepherd boy. That imagery could not speak any louder. It so clearly shows the loving care of our Shepherd Lord as He walks beside us to guide us and keep us safe. It is no more than we ask of a dear friend, or they ask of us… come walk beside me, help me carry this burden, and help me find joy and peace at the end of a difficult path. Come walk beside me…

Come Walk Beside Me

Come walk beside me, let me know you care
Take the time to see through the wall I’ve built.
Listen closely to learn of my heart
To understand the depth of my pain.

Come walk beside me, listen to my heart
Hear from the depths what troubles my soul.
Ponder anew the world through my eyes
Share in both sadness and blessings of life.

Come walk beside me, show me the right path
Grant me wisdom that I may discern.
Teach me Your truth that focused I’ll stand
Firmly grounded by Your guiding hand.

Come walk beside me, when my steps do falter
Show that you care for a troubled soul.
Help me carry the weight of burdens
Ease my worries, bring peace to my soul.

Come walk beside me, let me hear your heart
Your deepest troubles and what brings great joy.
Give me the chance to stand with you
In the same way that you comfort me.

Come walk beside me, let me know you care
Take time to see through the wall I’ve built.
Listen closely to learn of my heart
And understand the depth of my love.

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