To understand the encouragement we are taught to give to one another, notice what the author of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 3:8: “Don’t harden your hearts against [God] as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God’s patience in the wilderness.” The children of Israel had contempt for God, and this displayed itself through negativity, grumbling, quarreling, and disobedience.
Early on, the Israelites were ready to follow God anywhere. Coming out of 430 years of slavery, they had a strong leader, and they had witnessed spectacular miracles. When things got difficult, though, they cried, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7). Grumbling, complaining, and blaming are very human reactions to difficulty, but they are not a good place for us to camp. It’s healthy for us to voice our honest feelings and questions as the psalmist does (Psalm 77:7-9), but then we must move on by remembering God’s mighty strength and his wonders of the past (Psalm 77:11-15).
So how do we encourage each other? To begin with, we support each other. We come alongside a fellow struggler with listening, understanding, and help. Sharing God’s Word and praying are other ways to stimulate and inspire one another to have hope and courage. When my children are going through difficulties, I sometimes jot down for them specific Bible verses I am praying regarding their circumstances. This can also be helpful for husbands, for friends, and for ourselves. In our concern, we can pray that we’ll have an appropriate balance of honesty and praise. How can we encourage someone today?
Father, Thank you that you listen to our questions. Thanks for the encouragement we have received from fellow believers in times of personal discouragement. Thank you that the influence of your Word helps us with reality checks. Please help us to be an encouragement to those around us. Amen.
My prayer is that God, who knows all things, will send us the encouragement we need, and that we in turn will look for ways to be an encouragement to people around us.
Taken from One Year Devotions for Moms, copyright 2005. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved.