If I were an artist I would draw a picture of someone who is overwhelmed, exhausted. Someone feeling hopeless, abandoned, isolated, invisible. Someone lacking confidence. Someone at the bottom of the proverbial barrel staring into a black void.
BUT… they would be receiving an infusion, an infusion of courage.
That’s what it means to encourage…
en (prefix): to cause (a person or thing) to be in the place, condition, or state named by the stem word
+ courage (stem word) : the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear; bravery
= to cause a person to have the quality of mind or spirit that enables them to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear; to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope ; to spur onsource: Dictionary.com (app) and http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary
One of my favorite Bible persons is David, a shepherd boy who had a most unlikely friendship with the son of the King. David and his friend Jonathan– at different times in their lives — embodied what it means to encourage someone.
Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.I Samuel 23:16
But David found strength in the Lord his God.I Samuel 30: 6b
Two separate incidents… In the first, David is being relentlessly pursued by Jonathan’s father, King Saul. David and his men had been on the run trying to evade this madman, this monarch who at one time had valued David for his bold slaying of Goliath, had made him his bodyguard, had been comforted by his harp-playing. Saul’s jealousy of David became an obsession that led to irrational behavior.
Being pursued by someone David endeavored to honor and respect — after all, Saul was anointed by God to be king — was exhausting… physically, emotionally, spiritually. At just the right time, his friend Jonathan took the initiative to find David and help him find strength in his God. Jonathan reassured David that there was nothing to fear. He reminded him of what they both knew would someday be true: that David himself would one day be King over Israel.
Several years later, David finds himself in another precarious situation: he and his men discover their wives and children have been kidnapped, their homes burned to the ground, their possessions taken. They wept until they had no strength. And then David fears again for his life, this time from his own men who were so distraught by what had happened that they wanted to stone him. Again he’s exhausted physically, emotionally, spiritually.
In the first incident, God sent a friend to encourage and fortify David.
In the second incident, David went straight to God.
Sometimes we need someone else to buoy us up as we face life’s challenges. Someone who knows us well enough that they take the initiative and show up when we need a reminder to refocus on what we know is true. Someone who reassures us that we need not fear… that God is our strength, that He is all we need. Someone who is willing to speak the truth to us, regardless of how we may respond.
Other times we are able to find all that we need when we go straight to God on our own.
Going back to my picture of someone receiving an infusion, an infusion of courage… that’s the end result in both instances: being infused with something that enables us to face whatever difficulties are in our life, whatever uncertainties, whatever hurts. Being inspired with courage and hope. Being motivated to not give up, to keep pressing on. Sometimes God uses others to accomplish that… sometimes He’s all we need.
And YOU, my friend, just may be that someone — that Jonathan — in another person’s life this week.
And that is how together we’re able to have joy in the journey of this thing called “Life!”