When Encouragement Shows Up
Do you have days when you need a little encouragement?
Recently, I looked back over my pastoral career serving children and families. I wondered, What returns are there for all the effort—the cookies, story times, costumes, murals, songs?
Truthfully, I was tired. I not only was looking for encouragement; I also lacked energy to go on.
I am usually an Energizer Bunny. I just keep going and going. That week was different. I was finding it tricky to keep plowing through. This was a sign to me that I had switched power sources by relying on my own steam—so the work had quickly overwhelmed me.
God has called me, all of us, to Spirit-empowered, not self-powered, ministry. Still, there I sat in my office, feeling the heavy weight of the work week.
Make Your Presence Known
So I quietly prayed for God to make His presence known to me—in a way I could see clearly. I have prayed that prayer for countless others, but this was a first for me.
It should never surprise me—although it still does—when God graciously hears and responds to our prayers. The days that followed were not any less busy or frantic. The workload did not disappear.
But everything changed because God answered my prayers. And encouragement arrived.
Encouragement first showed up through a brief encounter with my friend, Jillian. She told me how she had spent time with Abby, a new friend. She discovered Abby didn’t believe in God and had no interest in knowing about Jesus. So Jillian had told Abby, “Even if you didn’t believe in God or know who Jesus is, God still believes in you and Jesus definitely knows who you are. God loves you, Abby, and wants to be in a relationship with you.”
Jillian did a beautiful job sharing the good news of a God who pursues us in love. This was particularly encouraging for me because Jillian is just seven years old and attends our children’s programs. What an answer to prayer!
I was encouraged again during our storytelling time that Sunday morning. We were engaged with the story of Noah’s Ark. The final page of the book we’d read had a beautiful drawing that included a spectacular rainbow. I asked the children to share with the group how the rainbow made them feel. I listened as the kids—ages 18 months to 11 years—expressed their insights.
After most of the kids had chimed in, it was Elijah’s turn. Approaching 5 years of age, he has a joy and exuberance I treasure. “When I see the rainbow,” he said, “I feel so happy because it reminds me that God is always with me. He is always with us all—and that’s just good news!” That encouraged all of us in the room!
Finally, encouragement also made an entrance into our preteens group that week. We were wrapping up our morning time together, preparing to pray. Then the kids, one at a time, prayed for each other—their tender hearts for one another were stunning. And the simplicity and power of their intercession was extraordinary. I was so encouraged by the empathy these middle schoolers had for one another.
I write of these encouragements to bring glory and praise to our Father in heaven. He truly is a good God, faithful to hear our prayers.
I know some of you today may be feeling tired. Some of you are in need of encouragement. I pray that God will make His presence known to you in ways that you will see Him clearly. And if you are in a season of being encouraged, I pray that you will quickly seek to encourage others—you may just be the answer to someone’s prayers.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16–17).