We are going to talk about encouragement today. I had another post planned but really felt like the Lord wanted to change gears.
Have you ever had an “off” day? I had an “off” day this week. I think it was a combination of being exhausted from traveling for Thanksgiving, not feeling well, and a little bit of discouragement.
Discouragement can be sly. It can sneak in without us really even being aware and then before we know it, we are down and depressed. When I had my weird day this week, I could feel my emotions trying to take over. It was heavy and came on quickly. “You want to be sad, just go ahead and feel it. Stay in bed- don’t reach out to anyone…” All the yucky things the enemy likes to throw out. It was a battle to remind myself of what is true. Yes, I might be having a hard day, but my life is amazing! I was determined not to give in to the enemy’s attempts at stealing my joy. I just needed some encouragement.
Merriam Webster says the definition of encourage is, “To inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.” I like the simple definition that our pastor in Texas used to give us. He said encourage means, “To put courage in someone.” I’m calling it in-courage today. I like that definition because it takes encouragement past just making someone feel good (which is also very important). If I’m in-couraging you, that means my goal is for you to walk away from an encounter with me with your head held high and full of courage.
There are a couple of different ways to get encouraged:
- In-Courage Yourself in the Lord.
King David had a famous moment where he “encouraged himself in the Lord.” 1 Samuel 30 is one of my favorite David stories. He had been traveling with his army and was headed home to Ziklag. As they approached, they could see that their homes had been burned down, and their wives and children kidnapped.
“David and his men burst out in loud wails—wept and wept until they were exhausted with weeping. David’s two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail widow of Nabal of Carmel, had been taken prisoner along with the rest. And suddenly David was in even worse trouble. There was talk among the men, bitter over the loss of their families, of stoning him. David strengthened himself with trust in his God. He ordered Abiathar the priest, son of Ahimelech, ‘Bring me the Ephod so I can consult God.’ Abiathar brought it to David.Then David prayed to God, ‘Shall I go after these raiders? Can I catch them?’ The answer came, ‘Go after them! Yes, you’ll catch them! Yes, you’ll make the rescue!'” (1 Samuel 30: 4-8 MSG emphasis added).
The whole chapter is incredible if you want to read more. There are some helpful tips on leading your team when they are too tired to keep going. So good.
The Israelites were exhausted from battle. When they got home, their whole community was ruined, and their wives and kids were missing. Not a good day. In their grief, they turned on David and wanted to kill him. Suddenly David was all alone. There was no one to encourage him or give him direction. David chose to run to the one Person we all need to run to when we feel scared, alone, and discouraged – God. God spoke to him, gave him strategy, and encouraged him. David and his men were successful in recovering their wives and children and brought back a haul of plunder too.
Here are some practical ways that we can encourage ourselves in the Lord: read the Bible, spend time in prayer, listen to a sermon, podcast, or worship music, ask God to speak to us, go outside to get some fresh air; and speak truth over ourselves.
The other day when I was in my funky mood, I literally was driving down the road saying out loud to myself: “This is just a feeling. You do not have to give into feelings. They are fickle. Your life is blessed. Look at how far God has brought you.” Honestly, I didn’t feel better right away, but I chose not to feed my feelings and replaced what my mind was focused on with truth. A couple of hours later, I was back to feeling like myself.
- In-Couragement from Others.
“So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle,” (Exodus 17:10-13 NLT).
This is one of my favorite stories about the power of other people in our lives. I’m not sure how long it took the guys to realize that their army was only doing well while Moses’ arms were raised?! I love the picture of Moses wearing out trying to do it alone, and Aaron and Hur coming up around him to support him and help him continue.
There are two parts to this story. 1. Moses needed support. 2. Aaron and Hur needed to provide the support. When we show up for others and speak lovingly to them, it is like we are holding up their arms so that they can continue their fight.
We need each other. We need to have someone look us in the eyes, show us that they care, and tell us that we are going to make it. I think we often have encouraging things to say to each other but we talk ourselves out of sharing them. It’s easy to fear what the other person’s response will be, think we are just being silly, or that the person wants to be left alone.
We have to remember that we have an enemy. Whoever we are supposed to encourage is being beat up by him. When God puts someone on our minds to encourage, it is so He can speak through us to them. But often times, we let the enemy beat us up too with insecurities and fear. Instead of that person getting encouraged, both people end up being stolen from. When we choose to step out to encourage someone, they hear something that they needed and we also get a victory. It makes us feel good to make someone else feel good!
We also have to reach out and let someone know that we need encouragement. Moses truly couldn’t do it without his friends. The battle would have been lost without their help. If you need help, tell someone you trust. My first few years being a mom I called my bestie crying often and would squeak out, “Please tell me I’m a good mom!” Last night while I was finishing up this post, a woman reached out to me who hasn’t been in church in a while and said that she is lonely and struggling. She bravely reached out and God showed her how much He sees her. I was able to encourage her while I was writing this post. Absolutely precious and powerful.
I also want to say that if you reach out to someone needing encouragement and they leave you feeling worse, please don’t give up. It is so painful but forgive them and ask someone else. We all have off days. You might have asked someone to help you who is deep in a battle themselves.
Again here are some practical ways to encourage someone: send a text, email, or call, prepare a meal, help with their kids, speak truth over them, pray for them, ask God for a prophetic word, send them a scripture, tell them that you see something wonderful in them, or invite them over. It’s really pretty simple – show up for them and speak God’s love.
Here is what the Bible has to say about encouraging others:
“Therefore, encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 AMP).
“I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love,” (Colossians 2:2 NLT).
“If you have the grace-gift of encouragement, then use it often to encourage others,” (Romans 12:8 TPT).
So many of us feel alone during this time of the year. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, experienced disappointment, or betrayal. Can I just encourage you to remember what Christmas is actually about? It’s about a baby who came to give hope and joy to a world in desperate need of Him. Emmanuel means, “God with us.” To me, that is the ultimate encouragement! God knew that we couldn’t make it on our own so He sent Jesus. Then Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, again what an encouragement! One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to fill us with courage. When we are in Christ, we are NEVER alone.
Here are some things I want to encourage you with:
- You are beautiful. God dreamed up every detail of who you would be and He didn’t make a mistake.
- You are going to make it. I know life can be so stinkin’ hard, but you can do this. Keep moving ahead even when you don’t feel like it. Someday, you’ll look back on this time and see that it had purpose.
- You’re doing a great job. It is way too easy to compare ourselves with other people. Don’t fall into that trap. You are enough. Your effort is making a difference.
- You are not alone. The Holy Spirit is right there with you and you can call on Him anytime. I am here for you too.
I love you and want your heart to be encouraged today. Whether you need to do what David did and encourage yourself in the Lord, or you need support from others like Moses, please reach out. Get filled up with truth, feeling better, and full of courage. Don’t stay stuck in discouragement.
Encouragement is free but it is worth so much. It costs us nothing to notice someone and brighten their day. It might be the thing that changes someone’s life. Encouragement is contagious. When our hearts are full, we spread that with those around us. Get in-couraged and then share it with someone else.