“Are the consolations of God small with you?” – Job 15:11
There are true Christians who can say that the consolations and encouragements in their life are too infrequent and inconsistent. They don’t experience encouragement often enough. As Job says, “the consolations of God are small . . .” Why? One reason why some believers are lacking regular encouragement is because they lack the genuine fellowship and strengthening that comes from godly fellowship and spiritual intercourse with the brethren. They lack real church life, trying to walk alone in this pilgrim journey, which is meant to be done close to the brethren. Scripture says, “As ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, so does the sweetness of a man’s friend by his hearty counsel.” Paul was sad, but “when he saw the brethren, he thanked God and took courage.” Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods, and “strengthened his hand in God.” Thus two are better than one.
A Christian will often be tempted to remain completely private in his views and feelings, especially when sorrow or trials are involved. But a fellow believer will be able, by opening his own experience to him, to turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone and convince him that all believers, like him, have passed through the same experience. Having seen the treachery of his own heart, a Christian will not trust his own judgment until he has consulted with a wiser than himself in the things of God. Even his own prayers don’t seem to help him, but then he is cheered by learning that there are brethren who are praying for him and he is the focus in the prayers of those who have power with God and prevail.
How we need the genuine and consistent true fellowship of the brethren to gain the grace we need to walk this joyful, yet often weary pilgrim journey. We don’t just need Jesus. We need Him and all that He has provided for us in this journey–His Word, His Spirit, daily grace, true church life, and consistent, possibly even daily, real fellowship with brethren who can strengthen our hands in God.
Why am I not more encouraged? Perhaps it is because I have a neglected void of lacking time with Christian brethren, for the fellowship, exhortation, strengthening, mutual prayer and encouragement that is essential for regular encouragement from the Lord. If your car is out of gas, you don’t sit and say, “I wonder why my car won’t run?” Rather, you go and fill it up with gas. You do so because you know you are lacking what is needed. Likewise, when consolations are low and discouragements are frequent, then we not only need the Word, prayer, and truth, but we also need one another. The question is–Do you consistently spend quality time with brethren and have genuine spiritual conversation, exhortation, and prayer? If not, why not?
Perhaps our greatest need is this–get with the brethren and the encouragements will flow!
— William Jay and Mack Tomlinson