Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sons and Daughters of Encouragement

"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."  --I Thessalonians 5:11  Whenever I think of encouragement I think of Barnabas in the Bible whose name means "Son of Encouragement."  What a great name that would be.

I'm kind of glad our modern tradition doesn't have us giving each other names that define our qualities.  I'm afraid I might be dubbed "Daughter of Criticism" or "She Who Whines."

Life has been challenging for a while.  Really, when you think about it, life is always pretty challenging.  After all, Jesus promised us, "In this world you will have trouble..."  good thing He continued with the promise, "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

We so need encouragers in our lives to remind us that we are overcomers.

In the past week our family life has been filled with highs and lows--both of which can be stressful.  The wedding of our daughter this past weekend was followed by my mother's admission to the hospital on Tuesday morning.  We are now praying for a miracle and asking God to give us a nursing home placement by early tomorrow morning.

In the midst of these events, I think about details for the upcoming Operation Christmas Child packing party that will be upon us in just 16 days.

What amazes me is how God sends encouragement to me just when I need it.  Monday was a challenging day with several calls from my mother's care home.  She was not adjusting well and I needed to come help with the situation.

Between those calls I received two wonderful pieces of encouragement--a beautiful e-mail from a longtime friend affirming how much our two families' mutual friendship has meant and a long letter from Jill, a blog reader from Florida who told me she read my whole blog (who does that?) and God used it to help push her toward doing more boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Those well-timed encouragements got me through some rough moments.

Then came Tuesday.  Mom was admitted to the hospital after a fall at her care home.

I sat at her bedside while she rambled in her confusion and prayed.  I told God I know He has these packing party details in His care but I asked Him to let me know if there were things I should be doing that I was missing.

Nothing can be better than the encouragement God speaks into my life through answered prayer.  Almost immediately I got a text message from Elizabeth who said she was working on recruiting volunteers for the packing party (what could be more encouraging than that?) and asked if I'd made arrangements for tech support.  Thank You, God, for that reminder.  Elizabeth also offered her assistance for other details.

A few seconds later God brought another detail to my mind, reminding me that
I did not check on having an announcement in the church bulletin.  I texted Elizabeth and she said she'd take care of that.

I stared at the view of the lake through my mother's window for a few more minutes and realized we needed to make arrangements to ask for donations of cookies for lunch at the packing party.  Another quick text message to Elizabeth who agreed to make the needed contact.

The Holy Spirit, our great Comforter and Encourager, used three specific obedient people to whisper into my life the hope that I needed this week.

Over the past few days other friends and team members have come alongside me with their prayers and encouragement also.

It is humbling to be on the receiving end of such encouragement and it makes me wonder--am I being obedient to God's command to "encourage one another"?

The few minutes it takes to write an e-mail or a note or a text or a Facebook message or (horror of horrors) actually pick up the phone and call or make a visit could make a huge difference in the life of someone who is struggling today.

Encouragement.  The gift every son or daughter of God should give.

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