It was the week before Christmas, and all through the house, Ron was coughing and sneezing, and scaring the mouse. Yes, I caught a cold right before Christmas, but thankfully I was well enough to lead the services on Christmas Eve.
As I was working in the office and popping one cough drop after another, I noticed for the first time that the wrapper of each Halls Menthol cough drop has words of encouragement printed on it. What looks like a design is actually filled with upbeat words like, “Get back in there champ,” “Flex your ‘can do’ muscle,” “Get through it.” “Don’t give up on yourself,” “Power through!” “Push on!” “Nothing you can’t handle,” “You can do it and you know it,” “Keep your chin up,” “Impress yourself today,” and so forth.
Although this “Pep Talk in Every Drop” advertising campaign seemed a little corny at first, it actually worked! I found myself being lifted up by my little cough drop wrapper friends. And it also gave me a topic for the January newsletter, for what better New Year’s resolution than to make a conscious effort to be more encouraging to others.
We all need encouragement, especially when we are down in the dumps. Of course, we can also be encouraged in just the everyday affairs of our lives.
I always hate to see parents putting down their children and criticizing them for their mistakes. Like all of us, children need positive motivation to grow and learn. They need that precious gift of encouragement.
When someone falls and breaks a hip, they don’t need people to come and visit them with long, drawn out faces. Yes, the person is in the hospital, and yes, they've got a long road ahead of them. But they don't need gloom and doom; they need encouragement! They need inspiration and rehabilitation. They need to know that things will be all right for them in the hands of the Lord.
No matter how old or young we are, encouragement brings hope and healing; gloomy
attitudes and misplaced sympathies only bring despair.
Encouragement is also important in the life of the church. In fact, this is a principal reason we get together each week in God's house: to encourage one another in Christian living. Paul writes in Hebrews 3:13, "Exhort one another every day." And again in Hebrews he writes, "Consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Imagine what a difference encouragement can make in the church. Imagine the negative attitude and spirit which would pervade the church if everyone walked around saying, "We'll never get new members; we'll never make our budget; our best days are all behind us." That kind of attitude would sap whatever energy people had and soon, the "death wish" would come true.
Instead, we need people with the gift of encouragement. We need people to say, "Yes, let's try this," and "Let's try that.” “Let's believe in the future God has promised us and let's get busy with God’s mission." Encouragement like this is a rising tide which lifts up every boat, because if there is one place where the message should be heard, it should be here in the church. “Do not be dismayed and do not be discouraged.” “Go ahead and trust in God, for with God, all things are possible."
Blessings and Peace,