Is it my imagination, Lord, or do we all crave encouragement of one kind or another? Even those who claim they don’t need it (or anything/anyone outside of themselves)?
I have seen what happens to people You have given me the privilege of encouraging. It may be someone I know and love. It may be an anonymous someone I cross paths with only once. Yet every Gift of Encouragement produces LIFE — whether that Gift is as elaborate as a personal affirmation of someone’s unique beauty or as simple as a grateful smile. New life, every time.
Like a desert flower that bursts into bloom after a drink of long-awaited rain.
At times, by Your Grace, I am a vessel carrying Your rain. At times, by Your Grace, I am the flower… watered by another. You have encouraged me so much in these last two days, Lord! In ways that have filled me to overflowing! Yet I’m wondering: How do You make us bloom, Lord, even when Life is hard? Even (especially?) when dry spells linger and the going gets tough? When our hopes are dashed, or our dreams evaporate when “reality” overtakes us?
I had barely finished posing that question to You this morning when two words popped into my mind: Belonging and Significance. Could it be that every Gift of Encouragement touches somehow on these two core needs we each have? These two “holes” that must be filled — rightly, not wrongly — in order for us to thrive?
Belonging: To know we are loved, unconditionally… not just for what we can do, but for who we are. To know we are Family — connected by a reality that exceeds our greatest possible success and is undiminished by our greatest possible failure. To know we are accepted , even cherished… warts and all.
Significance: To know we are important, in the eyes (and heart) of someone else whose opinion matters. Even in our own eyes, as we hope the time and space we have “occupied” here for a season (however brief) has made a real, positive difference to someone.
The kind of belonging and significance that run deeper than popularity and flattery — the duration of which can be as elusive as gentle zephyrs stirring the water on a lake. Here now, there next… then gone altogether.
It all comes back to You… doesn’t it, Lord? The one true Source of Encouragement. The One Who inspires courage. Who pours out Your grace and truth on us in abundance, turning those deepest “holes” of belonging and significance into reservoirs of Living Water from which we — and others — may drink until we are satisfied. Even before we know You are that Source, You are provoking our thirst so we will seek You… and You are moving Heaven and Earth to help us find You.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of Heaven and Earth. He marked out their appointed times in history, and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:24, 26g-28a)
Can we know we BELONG to You, Lord… that You love and accept us, no matter what?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“To all who did receive [Jesus], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:10)
“So do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:16)
“Nothing… in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Can we know we are SIGNIFICANT to You, Lord... even when no one else seems to think so? Even when we, ourselves, doubt?
“‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
“All this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… We are therefore Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18,20)
Ordinary people, made extraordinary — by Your grace, Lord… and for Your glory!!!
Let us soak in Your encouragement today, Lord, however You decide to send it our way! And when You fill our cup, let it overflow as You use us to encourage others!
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Gratefully drinking deep,