Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’ (Hebrews 3:13).
That’s it. Simple. I need you. You need me. Everyday. To encourage – to remind each other of the reasons why we can and do have hope.
Being very honest, I’ve struggled this week. With the intensity of lockdown life – two young kids, homeschooling, broken nights, work, being an extrovert right now (yeesh) – my patience has worn thin, my kindness been lacking, and at times I’ve lost sight of hope.
But just now, a few minutes before writing this, I finished a zoom call with two friends that I absolutely needed. From their conversation I feel stronger, lighter, my thoughts are clearer, and it feels like a cloud has lifted. Why? Because they encouraged me. That literally means they ‘put courage into me’.
How did they do that? Simple: they reminded me of why I have hope. They reminded me of stories of how God has been moving in the people around me, of things that He has been doing. And my hope, quite simply, is in Jesus being real, being here, and making a difference. What’s fascinating and humbling is how easily, even as a vicar (shock horror), I can forget or take my eyes off Him. That’s why I need people to remind me.
And so do you. We all need someone to remind us of the reasons why we can hope, of the good things that are happening, of the good that is in us. Hope does not immediately change the situation, but hope immediately changes us in that situation.
And that is why encouragement is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. When we encourage we give hope, when we give hope we help each other to find our best selves again, to find what we need to live well even in pain, uncertainty, and difficulty.
Encouragement is always powerful. Even a fake compliment can sometimes make us smile. But encouragement is most powerful when it is true. Encouragement that reminds us of something real and something true – that can make us strong, can give us the resources to encourage ourselves even when other voices go quiet.
There is no greater hope than Jesus. He is the one who said ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the life’; the one who promised ‘I will never leave you’; the one who reminded us ‘don’t worry about anything, because you’re Heavenly Father knows what you need…and you are precious to Him’; who said, ‘in this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome the world’.
That is why our first value as a church community is to be ‘Defined by Dependence’ – because we believe that it is only when we are living in a way that makes us dependent on Jesus and each other that we are living life to the full.
There are few greater gifts than encouragement. So with lockdown moving into another phase and the long term impact of Covid-19 still to play out, we are going to need all the strength we can get. So let’s give each other the gift of encouragement, every day, as long as it is called ‘Today’; and the greatest encouragement we can give is the simple truth: Jesus is here.