If you’ve ever felt depressed, you know how important it is to know that other people care about you. While I was recently reading a book on Christian counseling by Larry Crabb, Inside Out, I stumbled across a piece of wisdom that helped me understand myself a little better and understand how to encourage others a little bit more effectively.
Aiming for the target
Thinking about John 7:37-38, Dr. Crabb discussed the thirsts every person has. These desires are put into three categories: casual longings, critical longings, and crucial longings. He uses the analogy of a target with three concentric rings. The outer ring is the casual longings. These are our peripheral needs like food, shelter, sleep, and health. Everyone wants these to be met, and when they are met well, people tend to feel alright. But there are still much deeper longings.
The second ring is our critical longings. This has to do with our relationships and how we want to feel. People want to feel loved, accepted, appreciated, and respected for who they are and what they do. When people have both their casual and critical desires met, life is good. But there is still an even deeper need.
This is the thirst that the Lord Jesus was talking about – the bulls-eye is our crucial longings. It is the desire to be in a relationship with God. To have unconditional love, support, comfort, help, forgiveness, peace, and so much more.
To feel great 100% of the time with all these longings fulfilled would be fantastic, and one day they will all be met! But it’s important to remember that it won’t be until we are with the Lord in glory. The Lord often allows us to go through times where our casual and critical longings are not being met. This is not always because we have sinned but is to teach us to draw closer to Him.
Sometimes we may need financial support or medical help to fulfill our casual longings and at other times we may need the help of a Christian counselor to help with the critical longings, but we can still be experiencing the abundant life that Christ promised even in the middle of these difficulties. It’s not done through more effort on our part, but by calling out to God for help and relying on Him to deliver. Psalm 73 is a great passage of encouragement for those facing insurmountable struggles.
Meeting each other’s needs
For now, living in the sin cursed earth and living in sin stained bodies, struggling against our old nature, we won’t experience total peace and serenity. So does that mean we just have to grin and bear it? Every Christian has aspects of these three types of longings that need to be met.
That is why Christ has made us part of His body (1 Cor. 12:12; Col. 2:19). As members of the body of Christ, our job is to support and care for each other, looking out for each other’s needs (1 Thess. 5:14).
Practical ways to encourage others
This might mean calling up someone you know who is feeling down, sending a “thank you” card to someone who serves in your church, and adding some money if you know they could use it. Christians can often feel isolated in their workplace or think that they aren’t serving the Lord enough.
Send them a text with some Scripture during the day to let them know you are praying for them. This will not only be good for them, it will be good for you, and glorifying to God (Jude 1:20-21).