I have struggled with a nagging cough for the last few days. I don’t feel bad, but I have this little tickle in my throat that keeps me coughing throughout the day. I’ve tried several over-the-counter medications that have been as effective as stopping a rhinocerose with a BB gun – no success.
I tried again. I found this medication that targeted cough and trotted up to the counter to check out. Alex was waiting on me at the register with a smile that lit up the whole store.
“How are you today, Alex?”
“I’m great. Did you find everything you needed?” she asked.
“I sure hope so. I’ve been trying desperately to find something for this cough that is driving me crazy.”
She checked out my milk and Diet Dr. Pepper, and then she said something that caught me totally off-guard. I just wasn’t expecting it.
“I’m really sorry about this, but you cannot buy this medication.”
I gave her my shocked look and replied, “Well, why not?”
With a grin on her face and a twinkle in her eyes she said, “You have to be 18 to buy this medication.”
“Alex, girl, you have made my day! God bless you, Alex. God put you here to light up this dark world. You keep smiling. Ask everyone for their ID. You will make their day just like you have made mine.”
Encouragement is the dew on a listless, wilting flower in the desert. It’s amazing what a drop of encouragement will do for a listless, wilting soul. And it’s so cheap and inexpensive. In a world that demoralizes us at every turn, a simple smile, a cheerful word, a warm embrace can flood the darkness of our souls and give us light for at least another step. And isn’t that the way the Journey goes? One step at a time.
Encouragement can put a spring in your step and brighten our path if even for just a moment. Every little bit of light helps.
Encouragement makes it easier to live in a fallen world in a holy way.
Encouragement makes it easier to love as Jesus loved.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:34-35
Encouragement gives hope.
“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled.” Romans 15:4.
Encouragement nurtures patience and kindness.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
Encouragement makes it easier to sacrifice our own desires for the advancement of God’s kingdom. In short, encouragement makes it easier to live the Christian life.
Without encouragement, life would soon feel pointless and burdensome. Without encouragement, we can be overwhelmed by the very real pains of our lives. Without encouragement, we feel unloved. Without encouragement, we begin to think that God is a liar or is unconcerned with our welfare.
So, the Bible tells us to encourage one another, to remind each other of the truth that God loves us, that God equips us, that we are treasured, that our struggles are worth it.
It is far better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness. Alex surely lit mine that day. We could use a world full of people like Alex who dole out light and hope in an otherwise mundane job. She makes me want to go back to Walmart to buy stuff I could buy somewhere else. You can’t buy encouragement, because it is priceless.
You can certainly give it away, though. Encouragement, like love, is useless until it is given away. The strange thing about it is the more you give away, the more you have.
I bet you can’t encourage others without being encouraged yourself. Why not try it and see for yourself. The life you encourage may be your own.
Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey at Lake Wylie, 5415 S.C. 557, Lake Wylie. He can be reached at JourneyFellowshipLW@gmail.com.