Just when you think you have everything planned perfectly...something happens to change everything. It’s a good reminder that none of us know what the future holds. There’s a bigger plan unfolding...God’s plan.
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.
Music is medicinal. It calms, soothes, and lifts our weariness. It also delights and entertains, and helps us to forget our problems. Like the English poet William Congreve said—music has charms to sooth the savage breast, to soften rocks, to bend a knotted oak.
If you have a mindset of service, it will reflect in your work and in your relationships. No matter what you do for a living, your job can be an opportunity for you to enrich the lives of others.
Being genuinely happy for the good fortune of others doesn’t come to us naturally. Often it’s easier to commiserate with friends rather than celebrate with them. But when you rejoice with those who rejoice, you’re modelling Christ.
Before Paul put the final period on his first letter to the Thessalonians he issued a double-edged command: “encourage…and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). In a world more sinful than saintly, such a command is necessary because the spirit of discouragement is dangerous.
If everyone practiced the philosophy of an eye for an eye we’d all be blind. You see, grinding resentment isn’t resolved with revenge; it’s resolved with grace.
Complaining never happens solo. When you complain, you not only discourage yourself but those around you. Listen to yourself today. Are you impacting those around you with complaints or with encouragement?
When was the last time you directly gave a word of encouragement to someone else? Form a new habit: think of a way to encourage one person every day. It will change your life.
You never really know who is in need of encouragement. Encouragement spurs us on; affirms us. A word of kindness, an arm around the shoulder, a note, a phone call, a random comment said in passing... genuine encouragement never fails to help.
Remember the first time you lived alone? What did you draw on in your mind first thing in the morning? It was probably some instruction or encouragement you remembered from your parents. You learn your first lessons from your family—they see through the fog.