The Gift of Encouragement

Fourteen times in the New Testament we are encouraged to encourage one another. Honestly, I think it is one of the most awesome gifts you can give someone. It doesn’t cost anything, except a bit of space in your life to think about them and what you might say or do that would lighten their load or brighten their day. Though the dictionary defines ‘encourage’ as “to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence or to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.”, I think of it simply as putting courage into someone else’s heart.

That takes on added meaning reading some of Dr. Brown’s material that I referred to last week. What people need most in the midst of vulnerability, shame, and uncertainty is to have the courage to be authentically who they are today and know that is enough. I would add that this courage comes best from knowing that we are loved, that God is not distant from us in our pain or brokenness, and that he will work all things out for good no matter what we face.

Encouraging someone is to give them a gift of word or act that helps them have more courage to face what they are facing. You encourage people not by giving them advice about what they should do, nor by pushing them to do what we think best, nor by flattering them with untrue statements, nor by manipulating their behavior to act better. Encouragement does something so much better. It opens their eyes to a greater reality and sets their heart at rest in their unfolding journey

What prompted this thought today? Two things, actually! Last week I received an email from a woman I had met briefly in Germany before one of my teaching times. Just before I got up we had sung the chorus,”There Is None Like You,” addressed to God, course. The thought that hit me while we were singing, is that while this is definitely true of God, do we ever think that God would say such things to us. It’s what I say to Sara, my kids and grandkids, and even to friends. “There is none like you. No one else can touch my heart like you do.”

So when I got up I began to share that and even turned to this woman I’d just met, whose name came back to mind, pointed at her and said, “What if you knew Father was saying to you today, there is none like you?” Unbeknownst to me she had been go through a rough season and was hurt and confused because they had been thrown out of their “church” for asking the wrong questions. This is what she wrote me:

When you said to me, “There is no one like you!”, Father spoke that right into my heart and he kept on speaking to me that he knows my heart and that I shouldnt be bothered be what the church leaders said about me. He made me the way I am and he wanted me that way, and he has put the desires in my heart, that they didn’t like. The message you are sharing, Wayne, is the same message God has put on my heart, and I´m willing to spend the rest of my life to proclaim who God really is, how much he loves us, and how much he wants to heals our hearts! I wanted to let you know how much you blessed me that weekend. God took all pain and confusion and my feeling depressed away…and I´m happy again and know what I´m living for!

I love when God does things through something I’m doing and I’m not even aware of it. To think that little phrase spoken directly to this woman would unleash such a well of God’s light and courage into her heart, blows me away with how big this God is, and how much our words can give someone else courage to continue on the path God has for them. No wonder Scripture reminds us to “Encourage each other daily.” What a gift! And it doesn’t take much. Sometimes it an be an off-the-cuff comment like mine, and sometimes it comes from just holding someone in God’s presence and thinking about what God might be saying to that person to invite them in to a greater confidence in Father’s love for them.

The second reason this came to mind this morning is that while I was preparing Sara’s prescriptions and breakfast this morning, I thought how wonderful it would be for Sara to receive some encourage notes today. She’s been through quite a weekend, and now three days after surgery is where the real work of recovery sets in and she realizes it’s going to take some time away from all the things she normally loves to do. And all of this has come at her in a time where she’s already pretty vulnerable from the surgeries Father has been doing in her heart, that we talked about on the podcast a few weeks ago.

So I would love it if some of you had it on your heart to day to share some things with Sara that you think Father might be saying to her. You can post some of that here on the blog, or on the FaceBook posting, if it pointed you here. I’ll read them to her throughout the day. Or, if you want to address something to her more personally you can write hear at the office email. I’m somewhat hesitant to do that, thinking Sara we might be overwhelmed with comments and postings, and also knowing there are millions of people in situations like hers and worse that may not get any encouragement today.

So, here’s what I thought of. If you’d like to send something to encourage Sara today, please do, especially if you know her. And then maybe you could let God show you someone else near you who needs encouragement today. You could send either the same encouragement to them, or even something different that’s on your heart. And then, why stop with one! Who around you can use some courage, and what might you simply say that could be a turning point for them today. Then do it. Send a email, or leave a note for your spouse or co-worker. Call someone up just to say, “I’ve been thinking about you and just wanted you to know that Father…”

Filling the world with encouragement today, might ripple through the cosmos in ways we’ll never fully appreciate in this life. But that would only make it more fun!

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8 Comments
  1. Susan December 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Words are not enough to tell you, Sara, how much your story in the last podcast impacted me. And here you are, my sister, going through something as hard on your body as this. I wish I could give you a foot rub – in my years working in a hospital, this was always my special gift. I am blowing kisses from my heart your way in gratitude for you and Wayne. Of all the materials I have enjoyed and been strengthened by – transitions, the books, podcasts, the Jesus Lens, I have been most moved by your story. I can’t say all I would like to but something in particular was just the way in which you two shared the story. Not as a “how to” for deep healing, but just as yet another example of Abba’s perfect timing and leadership in this chapter of your journey. I so admire how you stayed out of his way! I read so many books and memorized so many formulas and always felt determined to “get at it” as far as being changed!! After listening to your story, I felt so blessed and surprisingly RELAXED! I saw how beautifully Abba loved and prepared you and I could feel it welling up in my heart that he loves me like this, too! And he will even teach me how to stay out of his way!
    Yesterday I heard a TED talk about how the world needs more love letters. I could just tell that this was something I can be involved with, so I hope you will consider this my first love letter to someone I really don’t even know, but love so much. You are so beautiful and brilliant and your loving, trusting heart has spoken deeply to mine. I will never be the same.
    Blessings from Ohio!

  2. Susan December 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Words are not enough to tell you, Sara, how much your story in the last podcast impacted me. And here you are, my sister, going through something as hard on your body as this. I wish I could give you a foot rub – in my years working in a hospital, this was always my special gift. I am blowing kisses from my heart your way in gratitude for you and Wayne. Of all the materials I have enjoyed and been strengthened by – transitions, the books, podcasts, the Jesus Lens, I have been most moved by your story. I can’t say all I would like to but something in particular was just the way in which you two shared the story. Not as a “how to” for deep healing, but just as yet another example of Abba’s perfect timing and leadership in this chapter of your journey. I so admire how you stayed out of his way! I read so many books and memorized so many formulas and always felt determined to “get at it” as far as being changed!! After listening to your story, I felt so blessed and surprisingly RELAXED! I saw how beautifully Abba loved and prepared you and I could feel it welling up in my heart that he loves me like this, too! And he will even teach me how to stay out of his way!
    Yesterday I heard a TED talk about how the world needs more love letters. I could just tell that this was something I can be involved with, so I hope you will consider this my first love letter to someone I really don’t even know, but love so much. You are so beautiful and brilliant and your loving, trusting heart has spoken deeply to mine. I will never be the same.
    Blessings from Ohio!

  3. TraciGrover December 4, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Thank you Sara for being brave enough to open your life up to all of us by sharing your journey. You encouraged me by letting me know I am not alone. May you know Father’s peace and rest during this season.

  4. Jacqueline December 4, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Dear Sara,
    No, I don’t know you personally, but I have been touched by your willingness to share a bit of your journey on the God Journey podcasts. I hope that as you recover from surgery that you will feel Papa’s presence in a very real and tangible way. From what little I’ve gathered from your sharing it seems that you are a woman who has poured herself out generously for others. It’s my prayer that you will be able to accept that care and love from others as you recuperate. I hope you can drink in the gift of being cared for not only by Father/Son/Spirit but by those people in your life who love you dearly. It’s my prayer that you will lean into this space and relax in the knowledge that you are loved beyond measure.

  5. TraciGrover December 4, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Thank you Sara for being brave enough to open your life up to all of us by sharing your journey. You encouraged me by letting me know I am not alone. May you know Father’s peace and rest during this season.

  6. Janelle Mast December 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Dear Sara and Wayne,
    I wonder if you really have any idea how what you are going through together (present tense) is impacting the body of Christ?! I personally think that the real, true building of His church happens more when we are unaware, than when we are involved in purposely “doing”.
    Sara, bless your heart!, you are simply one of so many of us who are discovering that we have found succor in good things or behavior rather than Christ Himself, to our downfall in the long run, no matter how good and wonderful it may be/seem. If it’s not HIMSELF, it will not suffice.
    I want to share with you a gem I have read and re-read over the last number of years. It has been of great aid to me. It is a quote from a book titled “Longing for Love” (A Woman’s Conversations with a Compassionate Heavenly Father) by Ruth Senter, pg.41. And I quote:

    “Nothing brings Me more delight than to love you. But sometimes, child, you seem to have a hard time letting Me love you. It seems easier for you to scurry around doing love than to open yourself to letting Me love you. Do you want to know why? It’s because doing love is good for your ego; sitting quietly and receiving love is humbling. Doing love puts you in charge; receiving love means I am the giver and you are the taker. (You find it safer to be the giver than the taker – less risky.) Doing love is high profile; receiving love is what happens between you and Me in private. Doing love produces tangible results; receiving love has nothing to stack in the warehouse at the end of the day.”

    It goes on, but this is what has stuck with me. I think He wants us to truly understand that we don’t need to amass a warehouse full of anything in order to be of value to Him.
    Little sparrow, I say to you… Rest and be weak. He is the mender of broken wings. His desire is for you to fly on His strength. He does not ask you to be strong, to bring anything to the table. Be undone by His wholeness. Let His perfect love dis-assemble all the walls you’ve hidden behind. You are worth His seeking and He glories in the finding!
    In closing I am adding a link to a song I love, and also an article I think will bless you two also.
    Even though I’ve never met either of you, you are in my heart and I am indeed blessed by your journey!
    Sincerely, in the the precious name of Jesus,
    Janelle Mast

    http://littlebootsliturgies.blogspot.com/2012/03/flight.html

  7. Jacqueline December 4, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Dear Sara,
    No, I don’t know you personally, but I have been touched by your willingness to share a bit of your journey on the God Journey podcasts. I hope that as you recover from surgery that you will feel Papa’s presence in a very real and tangible way. From what little I’ve gathered from your sharing it seems that you are a woman who has poured herself out generously for others. It’s my prayer that you will be able to accept that care and love from others as you recuperate. I hope you can drink in the gift of being cared for not only by Father/Son/Spirit but by those people in your life who love you dearly. It’s my prayer that you will lean into this space and relax in the knowledge that you are loved beyond measure.

  8. Janelle Mast December 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Dear Sara and Wayne,
    I wonder if you really have any idea how what you are going through together (present tense) is impacting the body of Christ?! I personally think that the real, true building of His church happens more when we are unaware, than when we are involved in purposely “doing”.
    Sara, bless your heart!, you are simply one of so many of us who are discovering that we have found succor in good things or behavior rather than Christ Himself, to our downfall in the long run, no matter how good and wonderful it may be/seem. If it’s not HIMSELF, it will not suffice.
    I want to share with you a gem I have read and re-read over the last number of years. It has been of great aid to me. It is a quote from a book titled “Longing for Love” (A Woman’s Conversations with a Compassionate Heavenly Father) by Ruth Senter, pg.41. And I quote:

    “Nothing brings Me more delight than to love you. But sometimes, child, you seem to have a hard time letting Me love you. It seems easier for you to scurry around doing love than to open yourself to letting Me love you. Do you want to know why? It’s because doing love is good for your ego; sitting quietly and receiving love is humbling. Doing love puts you in charge; receiving love means I am the giver and you are the taker. (You find it safer to be the giver than the taker – less risky.) Doing love is high profile; receiving love is what happens between you and Me in private. Doing love produces tangible results; receiving love has nothing to stack in the warehouse at the end of the day.”

    It goes on, but this is what has stuck with me. I think He wants us to truly understand that we don’t need to amass a warehouse full of anything in order to be of value to Him.
    Little sparrow, I say to you… Rest and be weak. He is the mender of broken wings. His desire is for you to fly on His strength. He does not ask you to be strong, to bring anything to the table. Be undone by His wholeness. Let His perfect love dis-assemble all the walls you’ve hidden behind. You are worth His seeking and He glories in the finding!
    In closing I am adding a link to a song I love, and also an article I think will bless you two also.
    Even though I’ve never met either of you, you are in my heart and I am indeed blessed by your journey!
    Sincerely, in the the precious name of Jesus,
    Janelle Mast

    http://littlebootsliturgies.blogspot.com/2012/03/flight.html

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