Do you know what this world could use more of? Encouragement!
We are living at a time, not too different than other times I would imagine, that can be extremely discouraging. It seems like everywhere you look something bad is happening. I know that most of us are trying to keep it together and pretend like everything is ok. The reality for most people is that they are walking around, living their lives, discouraged. Even though it’s easy to get caught up in the very real difficulty of our day, the Bible prescribes a different way to live.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
So much could be said about these two verses, but the short version is that they were written at a time when things were bad and getting worse. Christians were being persecuted in a way that had not been experienced before. The Future for these persecuted Christians, we now understand because we can look back, was going to be an attempt at destruction by the Roman government. And what were they told to do in this extremely difficult time? They were told to be together and to encourage each other.
Often when we are overwhelmed we look for someone to encourage us. What we find, however, is that when we look for those who we can encourage, we are also helped! There is incredible power in encouragement for both the giver and the receiver of kind words.
Because the benefit to the receiver is a little more self-evident, I want to share four areas that the giver of encouragement experiences its power.
1. Encouragement keeps things in perspective
When life is overwhelming we have an extremely difficult time looking beyond our own struggles. We tend to believe that no one in the world can possibly know what it is like to struggle the way that we do. This belief drives us further into the overwhelmed feeling. You don’t have to be clinically depressed to want to isolate when things are not going well. When you decide to live in a way that encourages others though, you HAVE to get outside of your bubble of despair.
Life begins to come into focus when you spend time with others who are also struggling. You realize that so many of the struggles you thought were big, really aren’t. That does not diminish your struggles, they are certainly real and need to be addressed, it just keeps them in perspective. Get outside of yourself even, and maybe especially, when you don’t feel like it, and find someone else to encourage. You may start looking at the world a little different.
2. Encouragement allows you to provide value and meaning to others
We are never happier as humans than when we are providing value and meaning to others. A sad life is a life lived entirely to fulfill self. A life of encouragement is one that lives to add value to others. I know that we often feel like we have nothing of value to add or say, but the simple act of a kind word or gesture adds value in ways that you may not even understand. Do you want to live a life that makes a difference? Find someone to encourage.
3. Encouragement redeems your pain
The word “Redemption” that we use so often in the Christian world means: Assigning value to something that was previously worthless. I love that definition and all of its implications in my life. From a Gospel standpoint we understand that when we enter into a relationship with God through Christ that we are redeemed. Our life is given value because of Jesus that it does not have without Him. That is a great Bible truth. The Gospel is not the only place that redemption can be found though.
When we use our story, the hurts from our past or even current challenges, we are able to redeem that part of our life. The things that we once thought had no value can be redeemed for the good of someone else. This is why I encourage people to share their story even though it may be painful. By sharing your painful past and presenting the hope beyond that pain you are giving a gift, to those who may not quite be to the “hope” part of their story yet. Do you want to find the value in your own struggle? Redeem those struggles by finding someone to encourage.
4. Encouragement keeps you moving forward
I don’t want to oversimplify here, but you can’t get struck if you are always looking for someone else to encourage. We allow the trials and obstacles of life to keep us from moving forward because (see our point #1) we are so focused on us. Do you want to keep moving forward even when things get hard? Find someone to encourage. It is the best remedy for getting “unstuck” when life takes a difficult turn.
The world can be an overwhelmingly discouraging place. It’s that way for everyone. Decide that you will be the one to make a difference. Experience the personal power of encouragement!