“May the God steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
— ROMANS 15:5-6 (NRSV)
There is encouragement from only one, though God encourages us through others.
Whenever we are encouraged we should first thank God; the person doing the encouraging has been enlightened in a spiritual sense to deliver the Lord’s message. Encouragement we can know when it lifts us, especially as we consider ourselves lifted from the mire.
When we are encouraged we live in harmony with our world and with all the people in our world; nobody is a threat to us and we, therefore, can be no threat to anyone.
Encouragement is a force for unity. Feeling encouraged is the grace of God and both the empowering and equipping of us for every task to be done and every other delight we are to experience.
Linking Encouragement with Hope
Hope is an essential vehicle for life; we live abundantly with it, yet we shrivel in many senses devoid of it. Sometimes we survive that way (shrivelling) for a long time before our hope ultimately gives out and we suddenly discover we are marooned and very far from the recovery of our hope.
We often find that this hope that has disappeared gradually without our knowing it has disappeared because we have become isolated. In some sense we have lost our link with encouragement; God has been unable to encourage us because our encouragers have been cut off from their impact on our lives.
Hope and encouragement do go hand-in-hand, where encouragement is the vehicle transporting us to hope. And where we have already cut ourselves off, perhaps out of choice, we have cut ourselves off from encouragement and, therefore, hope.
Because we all need hope, we all need encouragement, and consequently it is a great pity to be isolated and cut off from encouragement and therefore hope.
It is necessary to repeat it, for we are apt to justify isolating ourselves away from people who would encourage us. We proudly cut off our noses despite our face—much to our later detriment. Of course, those who would encourage us would also give us other feedback in love. But some feedback we do not like, no matter how true it is. At times our pride gets too big and good feedback is taken as a discouragement.
We must rally ourselves in community and steel ourselves to remain connected, because our hope is made real via love made real through people we rub against.
When we live as an encouraged people, together and unified in hope, we do combine as one voice to the glory of God, and there is no hint of disharmony that would harm God’s name in this world. It’s vital that we remain connected to the body of Christ if we would be encouraged and thrive in our hope.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.