Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Saturday, October 25

For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.
—Romans 1:11

There is a difference between a class and a support group. In a class we learn something about life. In a support group life is the teacher. What we learn, and how we learn it, is often unforgettable.

Some years ago a young woman in our church was diagnosed with cancer. Like a wildfire it swept through her body, and soon it became clear that all we could do was to hold her in prayer and do the best we could to keep her comfortable.

Each day we wondered if there wasn't something more we might do, something more we might say. I had heard about a cancer support group at a hospital some 40 miles away.

“Would you like to go?” I asked. She said she would. And so we made plans for the exhausting trip. When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses showed us to a small room. There were six or seven people there, as well as an oncology nurse, a social worker and a chaplain.

After they greeted us, and introduced themselves, they began to share their stories. One man, the talker, was still very much alive five years after his diagnosis. He was the voice of hope. Another was waiting to see what the tests would show.

Each story was a life story; each sharing an encouragement, and each encouragement an insight. When a family matter came up, the social worker added her word. When someone asked why their medicines were so sickening, the nurse answered. And when someone had a question about God, the chaplain listened carefully and tried to provide a meaningful answer.

The group gave us something we longed for—connection that was  both strengthening and mutually encouraging. It occurred to me that finding or creating groups that are mutually encouraging is not just an essential part of our faith. It is also an essential part of life that has the capacity to give and then keep on giving.

Gracious God, deepen our conversations that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged in the living of life. Bless our churches, families and friends that we may see your presence in all things. In Jesus' name, Amen.