One doesn’t have to look too far to find stories of discouragement, hatred and selfishness. Just read a newspaper or watch the evening news and you’re sure to be discouraged.
But where can we look for words of encouragement? We need to hear stories of love and unselfish attitudes – we need to know that there is hope in this seemingly hopeless world. We want to believe that not all people are murderers, rapists and child abusers, but we seldom hear about the good things that people do.
Recently within our city, the mayor held a meeting with church leaders. He wanted to enlist the aid of Christian people to meet the needs in their neighborhoods. There are many homes in need of repair because the residents are too old to climb ladders and fix their gutters, they don’t have the finances to pay for their homes to be repainted and many of them physically can’t do the yard work necessary for their homes to look nice anymore. These are simple tasks for those who are physically able, but impossible for those who are disabled or elderly.
You won’t find many headlines about people taking a casserole dish to a neighbor and rarely do you read about someone stopping to help a stranded motorist. Yet these are everyday occurrences. When a flood or tornado causes widespread damage we watch a news crew reporting on the devastation, but they seldom go back to report on the people who arrive for the cleanup. It’s dirty work cleaning up after a flood, it’s back breaking work to rebuild a home after it has been hit by a tornado, but those who respond to those in need don’t help because they want notoriety. They do so because they are encouragers.
We often hear that it’s the little things that we do that make the biggest difference. Jesus told His disciples the parable of the Good Samaritan for a reason. He expects His disciples to administer mercy to those in need. (read the parable in Luke 10:30-37)
God has been in the encouragement business forever. Psalm 10:17-18 reads: “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.”
Are you afflicted? Are you fatherless? Are you oppressed? Have you be crying out to God for help? Then listen, really listen for His response. He may be asking you to be the encouragement for someone less fortunate than yourself. We never have to look too far to find someone who has more problems than we do. Maybe when we respond to a basic need of one of our neighbors, we can change their life forever.
Years ago my husband and I went to church with a young couple who had six children. They struggled financially and although we didn’t have much ourselves, we were able to help with small things like a meal now and then, giving them used clothing and buying little gifts at Christmas. We loved them and wanted them to know that we cared for them.
Fast forward about 10 years and my husband and I were in a financial bind of our own. That young couple provided us with the money for a house payment at Christmas as a way of encouraging us.
We just never know when we may be the recipient of God’s grace and mercy. In Hebrews 10:23-25 the author tells us, “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.”
Yes, the world is in sad shape, entire countries are going bankrupt; major companies are closing their doors; people are out of work, homeless, hungry and destitute. We can’t change the direction the world is heading, but we can make a difference in our own family, in our own neighborhood and in our own congregation. Who do you know who needs some encouragement? Offer whatever you can because it is the little things that matter to God and He sees whatever you do for others as doing it for Him.