Wrapping Christmas presents is like painting. I don’t mind doing it, but oh how I hate getting started. Pulling out all of the supplies feels like a herculean task in a season when Christmas tasks already feel overwhelming.
“I need some encouragement to wrap presents,” I told Matt one night.
Seeing my fatigue and procrastinator’s dread, he kindly said, “Honey, you don’t have to wrap presents right now if you don’t feel like it.”
“No, you don’t get it,” I barked at him. “I literally need you to encouragement me to do this. A pep talk, please.”
He thought for half a second and then said, “Do you need me to help you bring the wrapping stuff up from the crawl space?”
“Yes!” I said, with a massive sigh of relief and yet another bump up in my appreciation of this man. The offer of help acted as an emotional kickstart, and I got all of the presents wrapped that night.
In our earlier years of marriage, I would have grunted my way through the task–quietly resentful that Matt wasn’t pitching in or caring that I was overwhelmed. But in 32 years, I’ve learned more and more how much he loves me and wants to be there when I need him. I just have to speak to him very specifically about what I need emotionally. God made him to be a rescuer, and the more specific I can be about the need, the better he can jump in and be the hero.
Sometimes you just get to that hard situation where you’re groaning to yourself, I cannot do this, but you know it’s something that has to be done or something that has to be endured. There’s no escaping the situation but it feels too daunting. This is when you need to turn to Jesus and tell him what you need in the moment. Tell him that you need encouragement. We ask for a lot of things, such as healing from being sick or help with a financial hurdle or wisdom to make a decision. But how often do we say, “I’m discouraged, Lord; please encourage my heart so that I have what I need emotionally to get through this challenge.”
In John 14:26, Jesus tells his disciples that the Father is going to be sending the “parakletos,” which is the Greek word that means someone who comes alongside you and gives you aid. This is the Spirit of God who comes to live inside us when we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. He is the kind and gracious husband to our needy, tired hearts.
I wrote recently about going through a hard season. Like paper-to-ribbon, God has given to me a great pairing of encouragement-to-sorrows through these painful last few years. My Growth Book (a spiritual journal I highly recommend for your new year) is full of such pairings. On one page of my Growth Book you might see the word “PAIN” chiseled on the top, with a list of all of the latest injuries and a prayer begging God for anything that might make me feel better, and then just a few pages later you might see a Bible verse or the lyrics to a worship song or the words of a wise preacher or friend–gentle and timely encouragement in response to the wailing. Always the goodness and mercy chasing closely on the heels of suffering.
What do you need emotionally right now, to face the trials the Lord has set in front of you? Turn to your parakletos and specifically name your need. He stands near to aid your heart.