It was the one-year anniversary of my youngest son’s death, and I was heading into daylong orientation meetings for my new job. I wanted to stay in bed and cry, but I needed the salary.
So I hugged my husband goodbye, made it to the office and asked God to give me strength to survive the next eight hours of new information, names and details. That’s when my phone vibrated. It was a text from an old friend living on the East Coast, more than a thousand miles from me.
“I’m praying for you,” she wrote. Following that was a Bible verse God had been whispering to me for months: “The God of Israel — he is the one who gives power and strength to his people” (Psalm 68:35).
In that moment when I needed it most, God strengthened me through my friend’s short message. She knew how to comfort someone with a text, and I’ll never forget her simple yet profound action.
By sending a thoughtful text, you, too, can help someone persevere. Jesus told us to expect trouble in this world (John 16:33). Whether that trouble is grief, loss of a job or a marriage problem, the Lord wants us to encourage each other and provide the comfort He himself provides to us (2 Corinthians 1:3).
Face-to-face meetings and phone calls are important, of course. That’s when you both have time for a full conversation. But texts have their place, too. God can use them in powerful ways to strengthen and comfort those who feel alone.
Follow Paul’s example
Consider the apostle Paul. His letters were obviously longer than a text, but what he wrote to the Philippians, Colossians and Corinthians didn’t include facial expressions or eye contact. Even so, his words powerfully conveyed God’s loving message (and they still do!).
While a short text can’t begin to compare with Paul’s average letter of 1,300 words, we can learn a few lessons from how he wrote to his fellow believers. Yes, his letters were meant to teach and admonish, but they were also written to comfort and encourage the people receiving them.
You can be sure that Paul asked God for guidance as he wrote. So start with a prayer for the person you’re texting, and ask God to direct you as you write a short message.
Four ways to comfort someone via text
I noticed four ways Paul provided comfort in his letters. We can do the same with a short text.
1. Express love, peace and grace
The simple act of sending a text communicates that you “see” your friend’s emotional state, even though you’re not physically there. In a Parents article about emotional support, psychologist Stephanie Parmely says, “The notion of feeling ‘seen’ triggers mirror neurons in our brains that produce serotonin and dopamine. People feel good when someone validates them … ”
Even a short text can lift spirits and express love. Paul enthusiastically shared how much he cared and often opened and ended his letters by sending “grace and peace.”
- “You have a special place in my heart” (Philippians 1:7, TLB)
- “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
- “For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you” (Colossians 2:5, TLB).
What you can text
- You’re on my heart today.
- Please know that you’re not alone.
- I’m sorry I can’t be with you today, but I’m sending a virtual hug!
2. Say you’re praying
Paul often told his letter recipients that he was praying for them.
- “We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly” (1 Thessalonians 1:2, TLB).
- “We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
What you can text
- I’m praying God strengthens you today.
- I’m asking God to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding in this situation.
- How can I pray for you today?
3. Offer encouragement and more connection
Paul often wrote about how eager he was to visit the believers. Let your friend know that you’re available to meet in person if possible and to provide any other tangible help. And be sure to send encouraging words as Paul did.
- “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:11-12).
- “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
- “The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3, NASB).
- “For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits” (1 Corinthians 16:7).
What you can text
- Do you want to meet for coffee? I’m buying!
- I can drop off a meal (babysit, etc.) if you need a break. How can I help?
- I would love to pray for you over the phone or in person if that will work for you.
- God sees you and understands what you’re going through. He will never leave you.
4. Pass along God’s wisdom
Paul’s letters, of course, share God’s wisdom, and your text can, too. Send a verse that might comfort and support your friend in his or her situation. God may bring one to mind, or you can choose a verse that’s been meaningful to you in difficult times. Scriptures about God’s love and faithfulness are always powerful.
- “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
- “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11, NIV).
- “Who is as mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them” (Psalm 89:8-9).
It only takes a second
In Paul’s day, sending a message was often an arduous and dangerous task. The person carrying Paul’s letter from Greece to the Rome had to survive a one- to two-week sea voyage (depending on the wind) at a time when shipwrecks were common. And that was the fastest way to travel.
Today, it only takes a few seconds to express your love and concern — and you don’t have to worry about shipwrecks or pirates. Just as my friend did, you can pass along an encouraging word and Scripture to strengthen someone’s soul. How can you comfort someone with a text today?