Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. (Romans 15:5)
Last Friday Rob and I went for a walk, as is our custom, in the afternoon. I don’t know if you remember but it was a particularly blustery day and as we walked along Mill Lane, just outside the village, the wind kept blowing straight into our faces. The wind blew so hard, that at times we were stopped in our tracks and almost blown backwards by the force. My eyes started to water and my nose began to run, as it does when I walk in windy conditions, and in the end we decided to shorten our walk, turn around and head back home.
Of course the moment we turned around and headed back in the opposite direction, the walking became much easier and we felt warmer. The wind was now at our backs and rather than battling against the wind, we were being helped along by the force of the wind.
Sometimes in life we feel like we are constantly walking into the wind, especially when we are trying to do what we feel Christ is asking us to do. It is at this point in our lives that we really need the encouragement of others. When I was at university I regularly wrote to, and received letters from, two of my great aunts. These two ladies would have been in their eighties at the time, one of them had such poor eyesight that I had to write my letters in font size 18 to help her be able to see what I had written. But their letters were always so positive and so full of encouragement. When I received a letter from them I knew it would make the day better and any situation I was facing easier to bear.
In the letters to the early church we find several occasions where Christians are being reminded to encourage each other, to spur each other on or to comfort each other. In effect we need to be like a gentle wind helping and supporting our fellow Christians on their journeys of faith. In particular those who are working to advance the Kingdom of God need to feel encouragement and not discouragement. We may feel that there is little we can do to advance God’s kingdom by ourselves, but like my great aunts we all can be encouragers in what we say and in what we pray.
Prayer (Traditional Irish Blessing)
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Song: You raise me up