Reading these two verses, I think of ‘uproars’ in my own life. I still suffer anxiety related to contracting polio as a two year old. Ridiculous–that was many moons ago. For my mother I had been a ‘surprise’, and not a pleasant one as she would often remind me. She would say this in a sort-of kidding way, but I was never sure. A pregnancy in her mid-30’s. My father’s house-painting business was beginning and probably their income was tenuous. Lots of worries for my mother. She grew up during the Depression, and her family was no ‘great shakes’.. And then I catch the polio virus.
My memories, none pleasant, are few but vivid all these decades later. Now? I know myself well enough that whenever I’m in a new place, that the first night or two will be scary for me. Feels like I’m abandoned all over again. ‘After the uproar ceases, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell…'(Acts 20: 1). Uproars that cease…encouragement that spreads.
I’m thinking of a pastor friend of mine who came back from a well-deserved vacation only to be greeted by an angry board and others who had turned on him, turned a growing church into one seething with anger and recrimination. When I heard about this’ uproar’, I immediately called him to offer my help, my shoulder, my prayers. When I had been through something similar, my phone went strangely silent. No calls, no encouragement, no one to listen and cry with. I promised the Lord that I would be different for others from the ‘uproar’ that I went through… alone.
Another pastor friend has endured terrible pain recovering from back surgery. I called him the other night to encourage him, and he winds up giving me the encouragement that I didn’t even know I needed. He’s that kind of friend.
‘Uproars’ come to all of us… and then they cease. What Paul did with his ‘uproar’ was to use it to encourage others in their time of need. Not easy to do. Must overcome our own reticence and self-centeredness…to reach out to someone else in their need. If you do, though, you’ll feel so much better about yourself and life in general.
Don’t tell your story…hear theirs. Encouraging someone else has never led to more loneliness and anxiety in my life. Quite the contrary. Take your wounds, lick them for a brief time, place them at the feet of Jesus, and then pray that the Lord will use you to help someone else. That will certainly help the ‘uproar’ to cease even sooner.
Prayer: Lord, direct me to someone in need that I can encourage today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.