The basic premise of the word encouragement is to instill confidence and hope, to inspire courage into another. It could be courage to face difficulty or fear head-on. Courage to press on in the midst of dismay, disappointment or dejection. Courage to speak up or step in when its easier to remain silent and still.
Maybe someone just the needs courage to make it through the day. This is the reality for more people than we could imagine.
An Act of Courage
Recently I was attending a corporate function during which I was shaking hands and exchanging congratulations to various associates. At one point in the morning, a woman about my age walked up and introduced herself. I recognized her because we were friends on Facebook, and I certainly knew her name, but we had never actually met in person. We will call her Lori.
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What I thought was about to be another passing hug and congratulatory exchange quickly turned a new direction. With tears forming in her eyes, Lori proceeded, “I didn’t come up to you just to tell you how happy I am for you. I came to tell you how much one of your recent writings impacted my life.”
Recently I had written a surprisingly candid testimony of a dark time in my life, and she had read it. It had touched her, changed her, and encouraged her. Now Lori felt courageous enough to encourage me in return.
What Lori didn’t know is that in recent weeks I’d struggled immensely with motivation to write or do much else productive, to be honest! Our family is in a weird transition season; my two toddlers are zapping about every extra ounce of energy I can muster, and I have felt accomplished just to survive the day without a trip to the emergency room. I’ve been in desperate need of some courage.
On the drive home I reflected on this sweet interaction. It was incredibly courageous of Lori to walk up to me in a crowd full of top-executives and, basically, by sharing how my piece so resonated with her heart, reveal to me a deep, dark struggle of her own. It was courageous to look me in the eye, tears and all, and not just send me a Facebook message or make a blog comment. Her courage encouraged my soul in more ways than she could have predicted.
The Gift of Encouragement
I share this because I believe we as Jesus people falter in our gift to encourage, to spur each other on in courage. The body of Christ needs encouragement!
We need courage to speak up for the truths of God’s word, to hold fast to morality and purity, and to remain silent when the culture seeks to pivot us against one another. That’s why in Hebrews 10:35 the Church is told to be found “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Paul also exhorts God’s people in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
When God’s people are full of courage, we are activated to make a difference. Through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit in us and spoken to us through others, we are equipped to exercise our spiritual gifts and unique abilities in ways that encourage others as well.
Encouragement is a gift. Today, I encourage you to step out in courage and encourage someone else.