Everybody has those days ………
a flat tire on the way to work ………
dripped coffee on your white shirt ……….
a bad grade on an important project ………
a $700 bill for the tooth you just had fixed that still aches ……..
There are plenty of opportunities to be discouraged.
So how do you balance that with encouragement?
One of the practices that our church has adopted is to ask the congregation to write letters of encouragement to the members of short-term mission trips. We try to have at least one letter for each member to open for every day that they are in the field. Granted, we only do this for 7-10 day trips, not month long projects. The idea was originally thought of for high school students who had never left the country so that they wouldn’t feel home sick. But now it has become traditional for every member.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Here’s the thing. When I go on these trips, I receive the letters and I am grateful, I really am. There is nothing that encourages me more than to know that my friends and family back home are thinking about me and praying for me.
But what happens when the jet lands in the US and I get back home? Who is writing me letters of encouragement here, now, when I need them just as much?
I have a secret: I keep some of your letters and occasionally when I am feeling my worst, I pull those letters out and read them. What you wrote for my encouragement in Mexico now translates to my encouragement here. And trust me, not one word is wasted. I soak those words of encouragement up just as if you wrote them today.
In the same way that my letters from past mission trips inspire me, God gave us his letters of encouragement in scripture. The words that were written by men from long, long ago still carry the message of hope and encouragement that the writers intended for the recipients then.
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
My mug is up and full of hot, rich liquid. Be encouraged my friends. Never doubt the value of a kind written word.