A small flame

A small flame

Authentic Encouragement {a re-post}

How would you define encouragement? Dr. Jeremiah, in his book Acts of Love - the Power of Encouragement, says,
'Encouragement is pouring courage into somebody who needs it. And God knows we don't have to look very far to see needy people.' (pp48)

All of us have days when a hug or a kind word can give us much-needed courage to face the challenges and difficulties that are ours. As believers, however, we are uniquely situated to do more than just help people feel better or more courageous. We have an intimate relationship with the One who is Hope.

The following is part of a post I wrote a couple of years ago. I loved - still love - the quote from Paul Trip and Tim Lane about what true encouragement is.

'Someone in great pain doesn't need for you to explain the situation to them. They do not need a cold list of you-should and you-should-nots. What comforts and encourages my broken heart is to be reminded that, no matter what pain I am going through, my beautiful Savior is always there, always understanding, always caring, always loving, always faithful. Paul Trip & Tim Lane said it well in their book Relationships, a Mess Worth Making:

"Encouragement is not just about making people feel and think better; it's about stimulating spiritual imagination. Encouragement gives struggling people the eyes to see an unseen Christ. He is the only reliable hope when the call of relationship has taken me way beyond my own wisdom, strength & character. . .

We need more than elevated emotion and accurate understanding. We need eyes to see this one amazing reality: that we are Christ's and he is ours. We need to see that it is spiritually impossible for us to ever be alone. His amazing resources of grace are constantly at our disposal. In him we find the wisdom, strength, and reason for hope that we have been lacking. Far more than happy feelings and accurate understanding, Christ gives me reason to continue in something that would have long since defeated me."

I vividly remember experiencing this kind of encouragement in my life. I had been greatly wronged by someone I had trusted and my heart was crushed. A friend assured me that I would get through it. At the time, all things considered, it felt very unlikely that things would ever 'be OK'. I remember saying, fairly doubtfully, "I hope so". I will never forget her response. She wrapped her arms around me and said with complete confidence "Oh, but you WILL. God has promised to complete the work that he's started in you!"

She had said exactly what I needed to hear! In spite of the pain and sorrow I carried, in that moment I felt my heart lift. My situation had not changed. My heart was still broken and a relationship I had treasured was still shattered. What had changed was my perspective. Instead of looking at the wrong that had been done and the pain in my heart, she had lifted my spiritual eyes upward and reminded me of the hope that existed because of Christ. Even in the sin done against me, and in spite of (even through) my broken heart, God is at work in me. And he WILL finish the job he has started. It is a sure thing.'

{read the rest of this series here}


Angie said...

Thank you for these posts. The way your friend encouraged you was so refreshing. So much better than a trite quoting a verse and almost making you feel more decrepit for feeling hurt. Anyway I pray that I will be such an encourager when I am put in that situation.

Rachel said...

Thanks, Angie! I often wonder if the stuff I put on here means anything to others. I appreciate knowing that this encouraged you.