The blessing of encouragement
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)
Over recent months I’ve found our Daily Encouragements very, well … encouraging! It’s been really helpful to learn from other peoples’ experiences, journeys of faith and understanding of God’s word, particularly at a time when life has been so challenging.
One dictionary definition of encourage is “to inspire with courage, spirit, hope or confidence.” The ferry across the Thames at Ham has been playing its part in recent months through a message board on the Twickenham side by posting its own words of encouragement. The truth is we all need encouragement, whether or not we’re people of faith. It helps us flourish, it puts things in a right perspective, it tells us that we’re loved. For Christians especially it reminds us who God is and how He really sees us.
The Bible is strong on the importance of encouragement. St Paul offered plenty to the churches he wrote to, but also called believers to encourage one another. And the writer to the Hebrews called his readers to ”… encourage one another daily, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” This is partly about spurring each other on to live lives that please God. But it’s also about challenging the lies we face in a fallen world.
It’s so easy to consciously or unconsciously absorb negative and deceitful messages about ourselves - I’m not good enough, I don’t have anything to offer, no-one would miss me if I wasn’t around ... The truth is you are important and significant. You matter to other people and especially to the gracious and loving God who made you, who is with you every moment, who is for you.
Encouragement is a spiritual gift, which means some people are especially anointed by God to build others up. Maybe that’s you, and maybe you haven’t realised it yet! But it’s also a responsibility for us all. So can you think of someone you can encourage today? Who in your circle of friends and contacts can you lift by a simple text message, card or small act of kindness that reminds them you care about them, that God cares about them, that they have value?