• Rachel Neal

Thought For Today: Encourage

During these days, when many of us are confined to our homes and the future is so uncertain, it's often easier to grumble and dwell on the negative side of what is happening, or become discouraged and despairing, feeling that nothing can change.The other day I was listening to a podcast that has a daily reflection, hymn and prayer. The person was saying that he had asked his father, who had a long experience of church life, what was most important to him. Without hesitation he answered, 'Be an encourager'. I wasn't quite sure what I was expecting, perhaps something more pious or profound! However, on reflection that it is just what we need in these uncertain times, to encourage one another. Jesus was a great encourager. In John 16: v 22 He said 'So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you'.

It is great to hear stories about people who have done unexpected and kind acts. On 'Breakfast' tv this morning there was an interview with Patrick, a black man and his 2 daughters. Patrick's selfless act of carrying an injured white man to safety during a chaotic scene of protests in London last weekend, has spread across the globe. He said he did it to avoid catastrophe as he didn't want the main reason for the protest to be lost in one moment of violence. It was a very brave thing to do. Then we have all been thrilled at the way Colonel Sir Tom Moore, who has become known for his achievements raising money for charity in the run-up to his 100th birthday during the pandemic. He said he wanted to do it 'for our NHS heroes and spread some cheer around the world while doing it'. Neither of these men were public figures, or set out to do something great, but just wanted to do the right thing to help in a difficult situation.

These are stories that encourage us and there are so many other, known and unknown, acts of kindness that are happening to help us through these days. And we need to do that for each other. Someone said encouragement is like oxygen in the life of a church. it keeps hearts beating, minds clear and hands inspired to serve. Encouragement is shared with the hopes that it will lift someone's heart toward the Lord. God commanded that his people encourage each other because he knows we need it. In John's gospel (John 16:33), Jesus warned that 'in this world you will have trouble,' which he followed with the much-needed encouragement. 'But take heart; I have overcome the world'.

A prayer to encourage us:

Father, you are the source of our strength. As you encourage us, let us be an encouragement to those around us. There is much to fear and be frustrated about in this life on earth and when the world seems to press into our lives harder than we can bear, we know we are never holding on alone. You remind us to be strong and courageous,

to rely on you for strength, and not to fear. 'Come to me , all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!'

Amen.

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