Blessings can come from encouragement

By Joan Clayton: PNT columnist

My day had not gone well. Everything that could go wrong seemed to do just that. The children had trouble grasping the regrouping process in math. Several students had been absent and needed my attention for make up work. Others worked on projects
while I sorted out supplies required for the task. I needed to be all over the place helping individual pupils. At the end of the day I thought, am I doing any good? Could I have planned better? Did I get anywhere today? Am I any good as a teacher?
I felt like a failure. At three o’clock my students lined up for a goodbye hug. The last little boy held out his hand. “Teacher, thank you for all your hard work,” and he shook my hand vigorously.
That was all I needed. If my little second grader thought I had done my best, then I would accept that and look for a better day tomorrow. His encouragement changed my entire perspective.
Talking to my 8-year-old granddaughter one day I asked, “Who is your hero?”
“My granddaddy, because he is always encouraging me.”
Have you ever stopped to think how much encouragement means to others?
You may never know the effects of your supporting words, but they make a great difference. In the midst of trials your encouraging words bring out the best in people, especially when they are alone.
King David found himself in just such a situation in 1Samuel 30:3-4: “When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.”
David’s soldiers, being so distressed, talked of stoning him. Now David really needed encouragement. He had no one but God, and that was all he needed.
David reminded himself that God was for him and he would hope in his God. David looked beyond his present circumstances and focused on the answer, not the problem.
He encouraged himself in the Lord and as a result he recovered everything
Many others in Bible times had the same encouragement as David. I thrill to the faith of Joseph’s statement to his brothers: “As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil, for he brought me to this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20 TLB).
I admire Esther’s encouragement when she agreed to put her life on the line for her people when she said, “If I die, I die” (Esther 4:16 NCV).
In the book of Acts, a great encourager names “Barnabas” was a great help to those around him with his gift, being an influential person in the early days of Christianity.
Worry, anxiety and negative self-talk have detrimental effects upon your body, adding overwhelming stress. Your encouraging words to yourself and to others can make a huge impact upon lives. All of us need that.
The Psalms give us many verses of encouragement. Turn to them the next time problems seem overwhelming. Stop those nagging, negative thoughts. Persist in positive affirmation. Affirm that all is well. Tell yourself, “I’m healthy, happy and fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
Interrupt discouragement with these Scriptures: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Remember all the hard places the Lord has brought you through. He is faithful and will do it again.
Be encouraged today. God is on your side!