Who Comforts the Comforter? How to Encourage Yourself
Here are 5 ways to encourage yourself in hard times
Are you the friend that’s always there for others? Do you often provide support and encouragement when people need it most? Being the comforter in your circle of friends can be a very rewarding and validating experience–confirmation that you’re living out your God-given purpose and your words and deeds are having a positive impact on the world.
But what happens when it’s your turn to be comforted? What do you do when you’re the one who needs encouragement but you’re the only encourager around?
Being known as an encourager can be a little lonely when we go through hardships and need to be the one who is encouraged, instead.
Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and the holidays highlight their absence so much more than ever. Maybe you have fractured relationships that make you dread the family gatherings to come. Or maybe the change in the season and the lack of sunlight cause you to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Maybe all you want is for someone to just genuinely ask, “How are you?” And to listen to your answer and make you feel heard and thought of and cared for. Maybe you just need someone to ask you, “What do you need?”
As encouragers, our human emotions that aren’t joy and cheerfulness can sometimes be misinterpreted, dismissed or diluted by our loved ones. “Cheer up!” They might say. “Don’t you trust God?”
When I was younger, such comments made me question my emotions. “Are they right?” I’d ask myself. “If I’m sad, does it mean that I don’t trust God?” Well, of course not, I came to understand. It simply means something unpleasant has happened and God, in His infinite wisdom, gave me emotions to express and process the experience.
Still, I’ve definitely had periods in my life where I felt like because I was there for everyone, people considered me to be “strong” and assumed I didn’t need the kind of encouragement they needed. That meant I had to get like David and encourage myself.
Maybe some of you find yourself in that same situation where no one is saying the right things to you or asking you the right questions, they’re just hitting all of your triggers and making you feel worse than ever and so you have to encourage yourself too.
Film director Ava DuVernay says in order to stay encouraged, she starts every day by naming 5 things she’s grateful for. That’s a wonderful practice, if you can muster the energy. For me, in those times when all else is failing, and I can’t seem to name 5 things I’m grateful for, I turn to Psalm 100. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.
But what I love about this Psalm is that it’s not just telling you to ignore what’s happening in your life and get happy. No one wants to hear that when they’re going through something. Instead of platitudes, verse 3 offers 5 important things we should know about God and about ourselves in order to be encouraged, even in our lowest moments:
1) “Know that the Lord, He is God”; That means there is an Almighty power alive and well and in control of all things;
2) Know that “It is He who has made us”; this almighty power who is alive and well and in control of all things had enough forethought and consideration and love to make each and every one of us uniquely. The same God who made and controls the entire universe made us too. We’re kind of a big deal.
3) Know that “We Did Not Make Ourselves.” The Psalmist reemphasizes the second point by explaining it a different way. He wants us to Know that we did not make ourselves. This Almighty power who is alive and well and in control of all things and had the forethought consideration and love to make us knew better than to let us in all of our flawed and glorious imperfection make ourselves. Can you imagine if you had to design yourself, design your biology based on your understanding of how the human body works? Even the most gifted brain surgeons find the brain to be a complete mystery at times. Thank God He is in control.
4) Know that “We are His people”; So the Almighty power who is alive and well and in control of all things and had the forethought consideration and love to make each of us and not let us make ourselves, this God claims us as His people. His children. That means He’s invested in us. He delights in us. He desires us to do well and be okay. He wants us to be in good health and to have healed hearts. Despite what our circumstances may tell us, we must know that the God of this universe loves us. We are His.
5) We must Know that “we are the sheep of His pasture”; Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He said if He lost 1 sheep out of 100, He would leave the 99 in search of the 1. That’s how much our God loves us and treasures us. He will not leave us, nor forsake us, even if we wander away from Him or life’s storms pull us away. We may not see Him do it or feel Him searching for us. We may feel lost and alone but we must have confidence that He will always come looking for us because He loves us and treasures us just that much.
No matter what our circumstance is, these 5 truths will always be true. God will always be God. He made us. We didn’t make ourselves. We are His people. We are the sheep of His pasture. Just like God, these 5 truths don’t change with the seasons. They are reliable. You can rest on them. No matter what lies your situation may tell you the culmination of these 5 truths is that you are loved by the God of the whole universe. That means you matter.
Speak this truth to your situation. I may be lonely, but the God of this universe loves me. I may be tired, but the God of this universe loves me. I may not be in the best of health, but the God of the universe loves me.
When you remember that God loves you and is for you and is working behind the scenes on your behalf, there is no hurt that can hold you hostage; no loneliness that can get victory over you; no suffering that can defeat you. God’s love for you is a powerful force that is greater than any other on this earth or beyond it. Take all of your power back, bask in the knowledge of His love for you and be encouraged.