Encouragement is one of those things that you have when you give it away.
The way to have it is to keeping giving it. Encouragement is the “cup of cold water” Jesus told us about.
In the opening sequence of Frank Capra’s classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, two angels discuss the crisis in George Bailey’s life. Clarence, the angel getting the assignment to help George, asks, “Is he sick?” His boss answers, “No, worse, He’s discouraged.”
Discouragement is worse than disease.
It strikes without a warning cough or sneeze but soon we are unable to breathe. There is no fever but soon we are listless, the fires of our life burning without hope. No one is immune to this disease—we are all susceptible to it and it can spread from one discouraged soul to everyone he/she touches.
In his letters to the church, we see that Paul sought to be an encourager.
Everything any of us will ever attempt for the Lord requires courage. Courage is faith put to work—believe in action; it is theology as behavior. If we are a discouraging presence, we drain from our brothers and sisters the fuel they need for their engines. If we are an encouraging person, others draw energy for their work from the Lord Himself—our source of encouragement. It is not some sick transfer of human will from one person to the next; it is a tapping into the strength of the Lord and the power of His might.
What does discouragement do?
- Darkness obscures the goal,
- hides the face of our Savior, and
- makes us feel alone, misunderstood, and put upon.
- Discouragement only decorates pity parties.
- A martyr spirit sours our faces and makes us whine instead of sing.
What does Encouragement do?
- Encouragement turns the lights back on,
- reconnects us with others, including Jesus, and
- makes us smile and sing.
- We celebrate the coming victory, even when it is a long way off.
- We are refreshed by a cool cup of living water.
Encouragement comes from relationships with others who share our beliefs. It is more than a shared optimism. It is a shared faith, a hope held in common, and a love that we know will triumph in the end. But we must be more than receivers of encouragement; we must be givers. It is likely that the most encouraging person you know, may be the one who needs most to be encouraged. The person who gives encouragement to others will see it flowing back in strength and joy.
A Discouraged King
In King David’s life a time came when there was no one to encourage him. What did he do? In the King James Version it says “He encouraged Himself.” How can we do that? Through prayer and the Word of God.
We are not really alone.
Jesus is with us—when we read the Word, we open our hearts to His presence, our ears to His voice, and our minds to His vision for us. We all need encouragement so we must all distribute it like cups of cold water to those we meet. As we do, we ourselves drink deeply from the well of living water. When we are encouraged, it really can be a wonderful life!
Mark 9:41 41
I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-14;2
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you…, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
1 Samuel 30:6 AMP
David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Lord Jesus, You know the human condition; You know it well. You laid aside Your heavenly majesty to become someone like us. You were a helpless baby, a dependent child, an adolescent with raging hormones, and a young adult craftsman running a family business. You felt what we feel as human beings. I am sure You were tempted by discouragement. Since this is nor really a sin, perhaps You actually were discouraged. Yet You found the strength to complete Your mission. You found the courage to face Your accusers with deafening silence. Encourage me, Lord to do Your will today! Amen.
I Know Whom I Have Believed
Composer: Daniel W. Whittle
1. I know not why God’s wondrous grace To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love Redeemed me for His own.
But “I know Whom I have believed, And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed Unto Him against that day.”
2. I know not how this saving faith To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word Wrought peace within my heart.
3.I know not how the Spirit moves, Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word, Creating faith in Him.
4. I know not what of good or ill May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days, Before His face I see.
5. I know not when my Lord may come, At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him, Or meet Him in the air.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved