Are you going through a difficult or painful circumstance? If you are, you’re not alone. Life is hard for so many right now.
Recently, I’ve been reminded about the importance of encouragement. The very definition of encourage is: to infuse with faith, perspective, and hope that fuels the daily need for courage.
We all need to be infused with hope and courage, especially during the most difficult times in our lives. And God knows this, which is why He wants to bring encouragement to us in many ways.
Here are four ways that God wants to encourage us:
- God encourages us through answered prayers.
“Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24)Few things encourage me like seeing how real God is – how good and how faithful He is – when He answers our prayers. If you’re feeling desperate, fearful, or anxious, remember back to when God answered your prayers in the past. That same good, kind, and faithful God is ready and willing to answer you today.
- God encourages us through deep friendship.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)One day, I received a handwritten note in the mail. It was from a friend who has walked through some of the darkest valleys of my life with me. His note ended with these words, “One of the greatest honors of my life has been walking beside you. I will be there for you the rest of your life.” His note could not have come on a better day. I had been sick all day, fighting discouragement, and feeling reflective and lonely for reasons I could not explain. Great friends encourage us to endure the hard times.
- God encourages us through unexpected tragedy.
“The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” (Ecclesiastes 7:4)Too often, we think encouragement only comes from the good in life. While good people, good circumstances, and good news are very encouraging, sometimes God uses tragedy to snap us out of our preoccupation with temporal affairs and “today’s deadlines.”One night, my daughter called me in tears. Her best friend – her matron of honor and a mother of two young children – was killed in a car accident. We cried, we prayed, and in that moment and the days that followed, all the pressing demands and deadlines in my life seemed trivial and unimportant in light of two young children without a mother and a husband wondering how to go on.
I was faced yet again with the reality that we are mortal and we all die – that our death is not an “if” proposition but a “when.” I realized afresh that life makes no sense at all if there is not a good God … if we aren’t made for more than life here and now. In a word, perspective is a powerful encouragement. Heaven is real! God is good! This is not all there is! All the things we worry about and feel pressed upon aren’t really all that important in comparison.
- God encourages us through personal progress.
“Desire accomplished is sweet to the soul…” (Proverbs 13:19)When I glance back over my life, I have a lot of progress to celebrate. I’ve experienced major breakthroughs in very important relationships. I celebrated four decades of marriage, and I have amazing children and grandchildren. Although we never arrive, progress is one of the most encouraging forces in our lives. It gives hope. And as we see change, we become more like Christ and accomplish things we never thought were possible.
My prayer is that God of encouragement may fill your heart with His hope and love today. To learn more about God’s presence in difficult times, check out Chip’s audio series, Finding God When You Need Him Most.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip