In cultures where Christianity is not threatened or perceived as threatening, the word “encouragement” may even lose a bit of its edge—a pity, when the crux of the word rooted in courage.
In the classic allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character, Christian, tumbles into the miry bog, the “slough of despond,” and struggles to get free. But the heavy burden on his back pulls him in deeper, and he begins to sink.
This image pictures what it feels like when we’re sinking in difficult circumstances—when our debts outweigh our income, when past hurts won’t heal, when discontentment marks our relationships, and when the light of heaven seems distant and dim. Discouragement, despondency, pain, suffering—these miry pits along life’s journey can pull us down into our own “slough of despond.”
Christian’s rescue came by the hand of a fellow traveller named Help...and the same is true for you today. Use these resources to find encouragement for your own life...or to minister help to those you find along life’s journey.
Thomas’ story is one of encouragement—he doubted, but it never overtook him. He allowed Jesus to take him from the place of uncertainty to a place of belief. I’m learning silent doubts rarely find answers.
When the advent season begins, our stressed-out and overworked spirits are refreshed by renewed anticipation of all Christmas means to us. But how do we hold onto that hope and stay on course throughout the year?
Sincerity, effort, or focusing on your faith doesn’t grant true assurance. The real ground of God’s acceptance is the grace that He has showered on you through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
Hope. It’s the one thing you and I cannot live without. But trying to hold on to hope can take all your strength, particularly when hope’s old enemy, doubt, drags you toward despair.
What I saw missing from my ministry was balance. While it was important for me to be there when someone needed me, it was also important for me to spend time alone with God because I needed Him.
In recent days I’ve been challenged to allow myself to believe, really believe, that God loves me deeper and wider than any other person could love me. More than I can comprehend or understand.
Let this sink in: our obedience in this life matters now and counts forever. Life in heaven will echo with the consequences of the lives we lived on earth.
This inductive study is designed to create a better understanding of heaven. For the next 30 days read the questions and allow them to spark deeper personal reflection and life change.