“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10
We all need encouragement.
Early in my ministry I picked up a book from a sale table entitled “Encourage Me!” by Chuck Swindoll. Perhaps it set the tone for my Christian walk more than any other single volume. Since then, the name Chuck Swindoll has become synonymous with encouragement. Here are just a few bits of his wisdom that might help you:
“God never calls His people to accomplish anything without promising to supply their every need.”
“Rise and shine, friend. Everyone you meet today is on heaven’s Most Wanted list.”
It is amazing how much we all need a compliment, a note, or a phone call. These are simple tools that we can use to encourage others. We never outgrow the need for an “atta boy,” a high five, or a cheer from the grandstands.
A couple of years ago I decided to contact Christian writers, to simply thank them for their articles. Almost everyone graciously and thankfully responded, “Nobody has ever thanked me for my writing. I have wondered if anyone even reads what I write.”
My outreach to others has also uncovered what I believe are the two most prominent emotions that discourage us: grief and fear. Grief is defined as a set of emotions, not just one, resulting from any loss, not death only. So many are grieving, and it takes little probing to uncover their hurt.
The other prominent emotion, fear, has more of us in its grip than we wish to admit. And it pushes us down into the pit of despondency. When I reach out to a person who is fearful, praying for them and with them, the results are celebratory.
In what areas of your life do you need encouragement right now?
When we give encouragement, it comes back to us.
Have you ever had this happen: If you are a teacher, has a former student looked you up years later to let you know how much you affected his/her life? If you are a pastor, have you ever had a parishioner contact you years later to thank you? It makes a huge impression! Years ago, I made a specific effort to do this with as many of my college professors as I could find, and the results were astounding. It was like I offered food to people who were starving.
My wife and I once returned to a city in which we had ministered decades earlier. To our amazement, the “kids” who were in the congregation then were now running the city! One was the city manager, one was the fire chief, and another was the president of a local university. We were euphoric when they remembered us and attributed part of their success to us.
Have you ever been reminded that your efforts leading children will bear fruit many years later?
God uses people to encourage us.
Do you believe God puts people into our lives specifically to minister to us? I do. My vocabulary has changed; seldom do I use “coincidence,” because I now use “providence.” People are in my path for a reason. I have experienced this work of God repeatedly, both as the giver and the recipient of encouragement.
Recently at the swimming pool where I exercise regularly, there was only one person in the pool. Since I had not met him before, I introduced myself. He told me he was receiving therapy for his mobility issues. When he commented, “I know only the Lord can cure me.” I agreed, saying, “I am a believer, too, a retired chaplain.” He teared up, and said, “I don’t think our meeting is accidental.
My wife died suddenly three months ago.” I prayed with him right then, and since then we have become close friends. We are both convinced God caused our paths to cross. My wife and I have been the recipients of encouragement even more often than we have given it. Our Lord has worked through His servants to repeatedly bless us financially just when we needed it the most. Generous people have provided us with vacations, special gifts, and even housing for our retirement years. The ways God has used other believers feels like God is giving us a hug.
God is our greatest encourager.
Our Creator is also our Sustainer. Through His word — the Bible — we find our purpose and strength to go on. One of the most encouraging devotional uses of the Bible is to underscore all its promises. God also builds me up in prayer. As I wait upon Him and listen to Him, His Holy Spirit nudges me, edifies me, and nurtures me. In addition to Bible meditation and prayer, I find great sustenance from devotional writers. Chuck Swindoll is joined by a host of others, like Max Lucado, Philip Yancey, Henry Blackaby, Richard Foster, and Henri Nouwen.
“Encourage Me!” is more than a book on a sale table. It is one of our heart cries!
You can access this entire magazine for free here: Edition 36