How to Encourage During Tragedy

Today's encouragement story is from another good friend of mine, Ami. I hope you're challenged to pray for people you know, and encouraged that your prayers really do make a difference!

Encouragement - when I think of that word I think of prayer and how one of the best times I've ever been encouraged is when people tell me that they are praying for me. I think of the time in my life when that was the best thing possible to do - pray.

It was fall 2009, I had been at college for about a month when I received the news that my best friend, Ben, had committed suicide. It seemed that my word had came to a crashing halt. At the age of 18 and 5 hours from home and family and friends I was numb. The first thing that was done after I had received the news my dorm supervisor and my room leader both prayed. At the time I didn't see it as encouraging but as annoying. I was angry, upset, and just wanted to get home. But instead I was sitting in the deans office hearing theses words that now I think back on as comfort. Comfort in the fact that these two woman hardly knew me but were sitting here trying to comfort me and pleading to God to comfort me.

My parents where on their way to get me and I felt like I was alone. I wasn't suppose to tell anyone because they wanted to make sure that Ethan (my other best friend) found out before rumors started. I turned to by oldest brother, Nathan. Nathan is 10 years older than me and had moved out when I was 10 so we never really close. But through tears I told my brother of the news I had heard only minutes before. Nathan's heart broke. He cried with me and through tears we both prayed on the phone together. He also poured out his heart pleading for comfort for me, my friends, Ben's family, and for mine. His words were of just pure encouragement although they were filled with tears. 

I returned home and was once again comforted by family and friends. Friends who prayed with me. Family members who stayed up with me while I cried and prayed for me. I had e-mails coming from back at college, teachers who I didn't even know, the President of the College, students who I never met, and of course friends I had made in the past weeks. All of the e-mails held the same words "I am praying for you." 

Prayer is one of the ways we communicate with God. But prayer is also a way we are able to encourage. I had never thought that people would come together and pray for me. I often think I can do things on my own. But then I remember back to the weeks after Ben's passing when I was encouraged through others' prayer. When people came together and prayed for God to comfort me. The encouragement of prayer lifted me when I was lower than I had ever imagined. Prayer is the greatest form of encouragement that I could ever imagine.

To this day I feel that if I really want to encourage someone I need to start praying for them. God hears our prayers and acts upon them in his time and according to His will.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).
Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer (Psalm 4:1).
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).
Ami is a 20 year old journalism student who blogs about this and that, photos, and life at Love Like a Child.

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