photo from microsoft office images
A conversation with a lovely friend led to her sharing this quote she had read that day… and it gave us both such a shock that we paused in what we were saying to take in fully what we had just heard.
How many of us spend our lives under criticism or discouragement? Do you feel that you never measure up to other people’s expectations and all you get is criticism or put-downs from them? May be it’s your parents, your partner, your employer, your pastor or even your children who constantly, day-by-day make you feel that you don’t measure up…
No wonder we lose all our courage. That’s what DIS-COURAGE-MENT means!
Losing our courage means we don’t have confidence in what we do. We give in to others and can more easily be put-upon or bullied. Our faith, too, can suffer from lack of courage. We choose to do safe things that don’t upset others, we can be easily led by those who are stronger than us, we listen to others rather than what we discern through prayer for ourselves. Discouragement can break our hearts. We may feel that God does not use a person like us.
Well, maybe it isn’t like this for you – but it is for me. Discouragement is something that saps my energy, my faith, my courage. The more discouragement that comes, the more I am easily offended and defensive. What others say hurts more, offends more and builds resentment that leads to dark and depressing thoughts.
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my saviour and my God.” Psalm 42:5
It is amazing that the opposite can make such a difference. Encouragement can lead to COURAGE.
Courage is when we can get out of bed and keep going through each minute of an ordinary day when our lives are full of trouble, hardship and distress. Courage is when, despite what others are saying or have said about us, we realise we have gifts from God that can be used to serve and bless others. Courage is when we can speak out against injustice and dare to disagree with those who are in power above us when they persecute or mistreat ourselves or others. Courage believes God hasn’t finished with us yet and that we can serve him by loving others just as he loved us. Courage is learning to forgive those who have hurt us or discouraged us. Courage is when we can believe that we are loved by the Almighty God who made the whole world and yet knows how many hairs we have on our head. For some people, courage is in the everyday ordinary happenings – for others, it is facing death in battle or persecution.
Courage is this and so many other things.
The danger is, however, that we rely on people to give us the encouragement we crave. If we do, then I am afraid to say, people will always let us down. We are all the same. I let people down just as often they let me down.
We should try to be ‘encouragers’ because we are to reflect Jesus in our lives, however…
…God is truly faithful, consistent and encouraging. If we first get our encouragement from him we will have true courage. We will be able to be encouraged even when other people are not there or are not encouraging us.
Here are some of the verses that have always encouraged me…
“If the Lord delights in a person’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23
“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in trouble…Therefore we will not fear…” Psalm 46:1
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God, he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:5-8
“Teach me your way, O Lord and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I might fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me, you have delivered me from the depth of the grave.” Psalm 86:11-13
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5
“From one man he made every nation, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our very being.” Acts 17:26-28a
“THEREFOR THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS…” Romans 8:1
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 2 Romans 15:13
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I could continue writing encouraging Bible verses out all day long. I have underlined them in my Bible so I can quickly find them when I need courage.
In all things we can be encouraged because of Jesus. God promised to send a rescuer for his people…for all those who would accept him. We can’t earn this rescue and we can’t earn God’s love. It is a free gift that was bought at a great price. Thank you Jesus that we don’t deserve your rescue but you loved us so much that if we accept your gift, then we are saved.
What en-courages you?