“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
No one is exempt from discouragement. It’s universal. A disheartening remark from a family member, friend, or co-worker can easily change one’s mood for the rest of the day. A negative word from a teacher or school counselor has often resulted in a struggling student giving up on succeeding. A devastating incident, a prolonged sickness, or the sudden death of a loved one has the potential to cause an already stressed person to spiral downward even further.
Yet, none of us need to remain discouraged. Rather than ignoring it and allowing it to consume us, we can choose to be free and regain a sense of peace and well-being. We begin by taking our eyes off ourselves and considering the needs of those around us. We couple this with overcoming the negative by operating in the positive.
For example, years ago when I felt lonely, I spent several hours a week visiting nursing home residents. I talked with them, prayed for them, and sang songs to them. My new friends and I were no longer lonely, and I always left there feeling a lot better than when I first arrived.
When I feel discouraged, the sooner I reach out to encourage others, the sooner I begin to feel encouraged myself. I reach out by cooking and delivering a meal to a family that is feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. I offer free babysitting to couples who want to go out for dinner or to a movie. I write encouraging notes to friends who are worried about family members, or anxious about things at work.
“So where do I begin?” you may ask. “And how do I know who needs to be encouraged?”
The Bible is a good place to start. It names many who need encouragement:
“But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter in. Encourage him,
because he will lead Israel to inherit it.” Deuteronomy 1:38 (NIV)
“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and
you listen to their cry.” Psalm 10:17 (NIV)
“Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.” Isaiah 35:3 (NAS)
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NIV)
“I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know
about our circumstances and that he may encourage you hearts.”
Colossians 4:8 (NIV)
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in
fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
“But the people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again in the place where they had arrayed themselves the first day.” Judges 20:22 (NAS)
You don’t have to look very far to find people to encourage. They are all around us. In Part 2, we will learn what the Bible says about how to encourage others. In the meantime, prayerfully review the list above and ask the Lord to bring to your mind the names of those who are in need of encouragement.
Prayer: Lord, help us to place the needs of others above our own. Remind us to reach out to encourage and build them up. Amen.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net