In my journal-prayer time each morning, I often ask God for particular strengths to help with the day ahead. For example, if I am facing a busy day, I may ask for stamina. If I am feeling inner tension, I will ask for peace. I also hope that God will reveal to me what I need to help meet the needs of that day, what I am lacking that might be useful for God’s purposes.
During these unique and challenging days, it seems that we could all use encouragement for our souls. In the weeks ahead, I will be offering a new blog series, An Encouraging Word. Each post will reflect upon a certain trait or quality that might serve as our encouragement for the day. The word will describe a strength or gift through which God can fill us, help us, and equip us to help one another.
The appropriate word to begin with today then, is encouragement.
Merriam Webster’s definition of encourage includes: “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; to spur on; to give help or patronage to.”¹ Don’t all of these definitions seem essential for today? And not only for these days of the coronavirus, but for every day?
Inspire with courage, spirit or hope…
We cannot fathom the utter grief and despair of the friends and family of Jesus during his time in the tomb. We are richly blessed because we know of his resurrection and in turn, ours. So in all of our tomb times, we can wait with hope. Resurrection is coming. Resurrection is guaranteed. This new life may look different, but it will be transformed through the sheer goodness of God. God is our courage, our spirit, our hope for these days.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13 (NRSV)
Even with the excitement of a fresh start and being closer to family, Jim and I were quite uncertain and concerned as we planned to move to West Virginia. Would we be comfortable in our apartment? Would his new position be financially sufficient? How would we like this community? Would we ever feel at home? But one day, the idea occurred to me that God was already present in our new apartment, ready to welcome us there. God goes with us wherever we go. God is always before us, always with us, even now. As Moses told Joshua what God had promised,
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. ~ Deuternomy 31:8 (NIV)
Give help or patronage to…
God is our constant help. God is our strength. God will see us through these times and all the times to come. We then are to become God’s help for others. In doing so, we will often find that we have been blessed- by taking the focus off our own troubles and finding the joy of helping one another. The encouragement God gives is not only to uplift our downcast spirits, but also to help us persevere in doing what is right and good. As Paul writes to the people of Corinth- even as he suffers,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)
Today my prayer for all of you is that you will feel encouraged, and that you will do what you can to encourage others. We will see a new day!
“One of the most important things you can do on this earth
is to let people know they are not alone.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
~ What might you need for these days? Is there a certain quality you feel you are lacking, one that would be helpful for you to reflect and consider? If you would like, please note your requests by commenting below. You will be in my prayers, and I will do my best to include your word in a future post.
(On a personal note, I especially want to thank my friend across the miles, Pat C., who is a treasured and constant source of encouragement for my writing. You all bless me as encouragers when you read, follow, like or comment on my posts. Thank you! I thank God for her- and all of you.)
All Bible passages are taken from http://www.biblegateway.com
Photo by Karen, Outer Banks 2016