I will never forget the day our grandson Michael, who was eight years old at the time, had to run twice around the large running track at Little Athletics. Michael has Cystic Fibrosis, which causes respiratory system complications among other things. Although known as a ‘Well’ Cystic Fibrosis sufferer he just could not keep up. He was finishing the first lap at the same time the other runners were finishing their second. He wasn’t going to give in even though he had to keep stopping to get his breath. My heart was aching for him as continued around the now empty track. Just then, a couple of teenage girls went over to the sidelines and started chanting, clapping their hands in time. They were calling out “Mi-chael, Mi-chael, Mi-chael,” as they ran along with him. When he finally reached the finish line they cheered. The thought of their encouragement and his determination still brings tears to my eyes.
An encourager is someone who is generous and wants to see others do well. Did you know that Barnabas, the disciple who travelled on some of Paul’s missionary journeys with him was actually named Joseph? It was the disciples who nicknamed him Barnabas because he was obviously an encourager. Barnabas means son of encouragement. We are told that Barnabas went to Antioch and encouraged the believers there and a great number of people became Christians because of this. He then went to Tarsus to bring Paul back so that Paul in turn could encourage and teach the new believers.
If you have no one to encourage you, encourage yourself. King David encouraged himself (1 Samuel 30:6) and Paul and Silas encouraged themselves when they were thrown falsely into prison. With their feet in stocks, they prayed and sang hymns encouraging themselves in the faith. After they were released they went straight to the believers and encouraged them. (Acts 16:16-40)
Chatting to my friend Pat the other day she quoted her mother as saying to her Dad, “You need to give yourself a good talking to.” I couldn’t help laughing; I had heard the saying before but not for many years. Sometimes I have to get myself by the virtual scruff of the neck and tell myself to ‘get over it’, encouraging myself to move on. If you are down in the dumps or a bit disappointed about a failure or nervous about a new project, if there is no one around to encourage you. Encourage yourself!
Michael kicking a ball