In some ways, there seemed to be a stark contrast between the two news articles that struck me recently.

One was “good” news—Covid-19 restrictions being eased on dining out, although this is still limited to two people at the moment.

The other wasn’t so good—mental health problems on the rise as fears over the coronavirus, work-from-home arrangements, and isolation from the restrictions take their toll.

And, yet, I saw some connection between these two articles.

On one hand, we know more and more people are starting to feel the effects of the restrictions that have been put in place to combat the spread of the virus.

Not being able to meet friends and colleagues has made me feel a little stir-crazy at times, so I can imagine many people suffering far more from the isolation, worries about losing their jobs, and fear of being infected. According to one report, the majority of Singaporeans said that their mental health had declined over the past year.

On the other hand, we now can meet one other person over a meal or drink.

In my mind, that meant one thing: We can now take a friend who may be feeling down or depressed out for a meal!

Few of us are equipped to really help someone struggling with mental health issues. Those who are depressed or struggling with stress and anxiety may need help from experts. But… we are all equipped to be a friend—to offer a listening ear, to give a word of encouragement, to share a joke, to pray together, and to simply say, “You’re not alone, I’m here for you.”

This is not just something that is good to do, but it’s also something that will please God. Encouraging others is a divine “calling” that applies to all of us as Christians. While some people may be better at it than others, we are all urged to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

2 Corinthians 1:3–5 also shows us just how important this task of encouragement is to God: we are reminded that our God is a God of “compassion” and “comfort”, no less—He comforts us with His love and presence, “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (v. 4).

Many of us naturally feel helpless, and maybe even hopeless, in this time of Covid-19. But as children of God, we have also personally seen His power to lift up and strengthen us. In the same way, I believe we can all do something to reach out with a word of encouragement to a loved one, a friend, or to anyone who needs a reminder that someone is there for him or her.

Now that the restrictions have been eased, how about catching up with someone who needs your friendship over lunch or coffee soon? While it may seem like a small thing, we never know how significant it could be to the other person.

May we be that person who comforts others just as we have received comfort from God today.

Lord, thank You for the comfort
You always give me in my times of trouble.
Please give a heart of compassion like Yours,
and eyes to see the opportunities
to encourage and comfort someone today.

“In Times Like These…. ” Bible teaching videos by Our Daily Bread author Bill Crowder on how we can be an encourager will be available in August 2021. Do look out for our emails! If you are not on our e-newsletter subscription list, do sign up so you won’t miss out on our latest resources.

Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.

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