You love it when someone encourages you. I know you do. Everyone does. We all crave and long for encouragement. God has designed us so that we thrive on it. When you’re encouraged you feel like you can walk through walls. When you’re discouraged you feel like you’d struggle to kick your way out of a wet paper bag. Spiritual encouragement enables us to flourish and grow in our relationship with God.
Where does encouragement come from. From the Bible? From the past? From each other?
Psalm 78 in the Bible talks about some amazing miracles God had done in the past as he led his enslaved people out of Egypt towards the promised land. He did breathtaking signs and wonders before Pharaoh, he divided the Red Sea, he led his people through it on dry land, he guided them with a cloud by day and fire by night, he split dry rocks open to give them water to drink, he sent them bread from heaven, he healed people from the venom of poisonous snakes, he ensured their shoes lasted four decades. (The books of Exodus and Numbers are packed with faith-building, life-enriching stories.)
But Psalm 78 also says this: “The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; because they forgot what God had done, the wonders he had shown them.”
So Israel is going to war - armed to the teeth - against an advancing and attacking enemy. But they become fainthearted and say, “We don’t fancy our chances.” Why? They have a numerical, strategic and technical advantage. Why do they lose their nerve? Because they stopped encouraging each other with reminders of how God’s awesome power had broken into their lives before.
Really healthy and strong Christian communities expend energy on talking about what God is doing. They don’t waste energy by focusing on what God is not doing. The power of words to either demoralise or inspire, to tear down or build up is enormous. Whenever I lose heart, if someone comes to me and shares a story of God’s power or goodness in their life it lifts me and helps me to see the truth that, whatever situation I face, God is sovereign and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Hebrews 3.13 says “encourage one another daily.” Cheer someone on today. Maybe send a little note or a text to lift their gaze from whatever their circumstances are to the one who works all things for the good of those who love him. What an impact it would have if we committed ourselves to building each other up and praying for one another every day of the week.
I want to encourage you as you read this. God never forgets a single prayer you pray, even if you forget. Things may happen to you today as a result of prayers that someone prayed years ago. God is for you. God is faithful. God is at work in your life. God is able.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10.23-25).