Who doesn’t like to be encouraged?
The Book of Hebrews says, “Encourage one another daily, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13) The Gospel of John explains what “sin’s deceitfulness” means when it tells us that the devil “is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) His most frequent lies are that we are not worthy, that we are not loved or appreciated, that what we do doesn’t matter, and that God does not really care about us or our lives.
These lies seek to oppress us. They cause us to forget that we are God’s special creation, made in his image and likeness with the important task of taking care of the garden of his creation and establishing his kingdom on this earth. These lies can be disabling. They derail us from the reason for our being. They prevent us from carrying out the work God has in mind for only us to do in the context of the people and circumstances of our lives.
The antidote for these lies is encouragement. Psalm 10:17 says God encourages the afflicted. We are his agents for encouragement. It is an act of love. One of the ways he shows his love for us is through the encouragement of one another.
During this past weekend, those of us living in the Washington D. C. area were snowed in with more than two feet of snow. Since we were confined to the house, I decided to clean out my home office of old files, records, bills, letters, magazines and other materials that had accumulated over many years.
One cabinet shelf included cards and letters from my wife, children, grandchildren, parents, and friends dating back as much as 40 years. There were cards covering birthdays, anniversaries, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, letters from former work colleagues and friends, get well cards when I had cancer surgery, and thank you notes for a variety of things. Of course, I couldn’t throw them away without reading them.
Over the next several hours as the snow was accumulating outside in record proportions, I was bathed in an avalanche of encouragement and love! Countless expressions of affirming love from my good wife and children, specially designed picture cards and artwork from grandchildren, a poignant letter from my father at crucial time in his life, letters from friends reminding me of special times long forgotten, a thank you note from the husband of a former secretary who died prematurely of colon cancer — were among the treasure trove of love and encouragement.
What a lesson in how God uses encouragement and love to sustain us in good times and bad! May we be ever mindful of the opportunities that God places in our paths to be his agent to bring encouragement and love to others.