Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lord, Please Send Me Some Encouragement

Discouragement is the arch enemy of progress and improvement. The key piece of information that remains elusive after weeks of research; the major business prospect who is repeatedly out of the office when called; the equipment failure that occurs one hour before a crucial deadline—all taunt us with that insidious whisper, “You’ve already failed. Give up trying!”

Spiritual matters are not immune. We think the anger habit is finally conquered, then blow up again under stress. We pray daily for healing of a cancer, yet it continues to spread. We witness to family members for years, but they remain cold to all things spiritual. Then the demon of discouragement whispers in our ears, "Give up. You should know by now that God doesn't really care anyway."

Of course, God cares very much. But His "thoughts are not [our] thoughts, neither are [our] ways [His] ways" (Is. 55:8, NIV), and sometimes He knows--however obvious the contrary seems to us--that the best thing for us is to get what we want, but not immediately. Lack of an instant "Yes" on His part doesn't always mean "No." It can mean "Wait." And "Wait" doesn't always mean "Do nothing"; it may mean "Keep working." The only way we can find out is to keep in constant touch with Him.

And He will keep in touch with us. Even when things seem futile, He sends us His little "encouragement notes"--a kind word from a friend, a beautiful sunrise, a nuzzle from a pet--all of which are His means of saying to us, "Take courage; I still care," if we refuse to let discouragement dig in so deeply that it keeps us from watching for them.

And, as Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 1:3-4, let's remember to pass some of God's encouragement on to others.

Lord, please send me some encouragement:
Any form of delivery will do,
But please lift me out of discouragement,
And draw my soul closer to You.

Lord, please send me some encouragement:
A bluebird; a cardinal in red;
A song on the radio; a phone call;
A friend to dry tears I have shed.

Lord, please send me some encouragement:
You promised to stay to the end,
But at times I crave something material,
As a sign from my Heavenly Friend.

Lord, please send me some encouragement:
But open my heart's eyes to see,
To know what You send when it gets here,
To thank You, whatever it be.

Lord, please send me some encouragement,
To fill up my soul with Your joy,
And, forged in the furnace of pressure,
A strength that no gloom can destroy.

Lord, please send me some encouragement:
And then, when my joy is made whole,
Use me as a means of encouragement,
To strengthen some other poor soul.

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