Who doesn’t want encouragement? Someone cheering us on? Someone pushing us to finish the race, complete the job, end well? Of course we all do.
Yet sometimes encouragement doesn’t seem … well … encouraging.
Take for example a time when someone advised you not to continue in a certain sport or pursue a certain career because, frankly, you just weren’t cut out for that activity or job. Or a time when you were reprimanded. Not the greatest feeling, was it?
Encouraging words can at times feel discouraging.
The Thing About Encouragement
Encouragement is always for our best but doesn’t always feel the best. [←Tweet this.]
Most of us don’t get this. We think of encouraging words as always uplifting and positive. Yet that’s incorrect and dangerous thinking.
Many of the books in the Old Testament are filled with words that at first glance don’t appear to be encouraging. Words such as “exile” and “slaves” are not generally thought of in a positive light. Yet the harsh pronouncements of the Lord served a purpose: to help His people repent and choose the better path.
Words of encouragement are those used to inspire and hearten, yes, but they are also those used to urge, stimulate, or foster. And face it, sometimes we need to hear harsh words to spur us in the better choice, to encourage growth, and to persuade us to pursue righteousness.
The thing about God is He doesn’t pour out platitudes just to make us feel better. His encouragement, though not always gentle on the ears or easy to read, is genuine and life giving.
God warned the Israelites about the consequences of sin, and they were exiled and kept in bondage for many years. And he warns us of the troubling times to come as well. In fact, because of our sin, HE ASSURES US troubles will come (John 16:33)!
But God never leaves us in dismay. We can claim the encouragement the Lord offered His people through Jeremiah for ourselves as well.
“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:3-4)
And we can declare with the Psalmist:
“You caused me to experience many troubles and misfortunes,
but You will revive me again. You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth…..My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You because You have redeemed me.” (Psalm 71:20, 23)
Because, you see, those seemingly discouraging words may just lead to a better life.
Reflection: Well, should encouragement always feel encouraging? Have you experienced encouragement that at the time appeared discouraging?
Yippee, Lisa-Jo and 5 minute Friday is back! Linking with a crowd that writes uninhibited for 5 minutes (or a few more) on a given topic. It is a wonderful exercise in letting the words flow. Click the button (icon) to check out more posts or consider linking up yourself. Today’s word is: “Encouragement.”
Yours in grace ≈