The young boy approached his father.
“Dad, let’s play darts. I’ll throw and you say, ‘Great shot!’”
Though probably apocryphal in nature, that exchange still bespeaks of a real need — the need to be encouraged. It is a need that is not unique to our day. Even in Scripture we find people of God who knew discouragement and despair. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Moses. Elijah. David. Jeremiah. The disciples. Paul. In fact, Paul faced some unknown trouble that disturbed him so greatly that he said it was beyond human survival (2 Cor. 1:8-9). Yet even that occurrence could not cripple him (2 Cor. 4:8). Why? He found encouragement in Scripture and Christ.
The most common word New Testament Greek word translated “encouragement” is used almost five dozen times in the epistles alone. It is also used often in other Greek literature. One of its most vivid uses is that of a general who in the hours and moments preceding a battle reminds his troops of the plan that has been laid for victory. That is the force of New Testament encouragement. If we will live hopefully in challenging and discouraging times, we will remember the eternal plan that has been devised by the infinite God for our victory.
What are some of these specific reminders?
- Remember that whether we die or remain alive, all who are in Christ will live eternally together with Him (1 Thess. 5:10-11).
- Remember that what you do for Christ you do by his mercy and grace (Rom. 12:1).
- Remember that One resides within you whose name is “Encourager” (Comforter) and whose fruit in you is the encouragement of God (2 Cor. 1:4).
- Remember that God has given me for you and you for me for the purpose of supporting each other in our times of weakness (Eph. 6:22; Col. 4:8; 1 Thess. 5:11).
- Remember to avoid the sin of distrusting God when discouragement arises (Hebrews 3:12-13).
- Remember that even in discouraging times, God is at work within you to “perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” That’s His grace (1 Pt. 5:10-12).
We cannot and will not escape troubles in this world. But there is hope within our troubles — and we find our hope and encouragement in the pages of Scripture. We do well to remind ourselves of these realities on a regular basis.