Recently I was in one of those really dark moods where everything seems hopeless and my faith in others turned to disdain. I could not see anything positive or joyful about life and no reason to trust or desire the company of others. While my mind considered low thoughts of family and friends I really began to doubt that God cared about my sorrows or needs and for sure most others were too self absorbed to care if I was hurting. My stomach turned sour, my thoughts jumped around, my heart beat loudly, and loneliness crept in and covered me like a thick blanket. What began to turn things around was the prayer list. My wife brought the bulletin back from church. I had been too depressed and discouraged to go that Sunday. As I wallowed in pity and even anger I restlessly scanned the bulletin. Pretty much the same old stuff and little hope that the church would offer any opportunities to pick up my spirits. Then I saw it... a prayer request for someone with cancer. And another with cancer and another with a serious health concern. Talk about conviction. I was being discouraged but maybe my reasoning for being so was less commendable than I believed it to be. Loneliness and dejection were some pretty good reasons to feel down a moment ago. But here God was showing me that I was focused too much on self and not enough on the others that my sorrow preferred to blame my misery. The people listed in the prayer requests needed encouragement and to know that others cared about their burdens and trials. To intercede on behalf of the sick and hurting is an opportunity for joy. To offer a hand to the needy, to visit those in jail or write a letter of encouragement is to delight in the grace of God. I felt ashamed to have been so focused on my self. The worst thing about loneliness is that it brings us to sorrow for self love. Discouragement is the sorrow of self love. Encouragement is the joy of giving love to others. Reach out when you feel down. Help a neighbor who is sick. Visit an elderly shut-in. Bring some groceries to someone without transportation. Send a note to someone in prison. Call up someone on the prayer list and let them know that you are praying for them. Tell a coworker about the Love of God demonstrated by Christ's bearing sin on the cross.
2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Lights in the World
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy's  proven worth, how as a son  with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.
25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. Phil 2:1-30