Last week I wrote a blog post and received some fair criticism from a valuable person in my life. That left me in sober spirits, questioning what I’m writing. So I spent the rest of the day taking this concern to the Lord. (It’s always wise to seriously consider the truth God might be sending through criticism.) Certainly I am writing to help others and to glorify God, but I wondered if maybe I was accomplishing neither of those things. I prayed and prayed about it.
Went to bed with a heavy heart.
The next morning I woke up, still asking God about this. I really wanted Him to show me if I had gotten off track somewhere or if I was doing okay in my writing. Opening up Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Keep a Quiet Heart, I was amazed to read almost exactly the same words I had written in the blog post that had received criticism. What an incredible and specific encouragement to my troubled thoughts!
I continued to pray throughout the week, committing my writing to the Lord and begging Him to make it a useful service to others. He continued to encourage me through my daily Bible study, a memory verse I had tucked in my heart years ago, and the words of a fellow blogger.
I also have been reading Ray Comfort’s autobiography, and he talked about going into a very dangerous and difficult ministry for the Lord. He said he told the Lord he would need encouragement if he were going to move forward in this ministry, and then he described the specific and personal ways God encouraged him to go for it.
This thought took me by surprise –God wants to encourage us to move forward in obedience to Him.
Jesus tells His disciples that things are about to get really hard for them, but in the middle of that he says, “Ask and you will receive.” (John 16:24 NIV) But do we ever ask God to encourage us?
Our enemy, the Devil, wakes up every morning with the goal to destroy us, and he starts by taking the feet out from underneath our courage. I can deal with financial difficulties and work stress, but nothing is more debilitating than discouragement.
Surely one of the greatest works of the Spirit of God is to bolster our courage.
The best part about God’s encouragement is that it is specifically tailored to each individual. Like the way I encouraged my son with the rare treat of a box of Cheez-Its this weekend, as a reward for getting his driver’s license, and the way I encouraged my daughter with fresh asparagus, as a refreshing change from dorm cafeteria food. Parents know what makes each child smile.
But no one can lovingly encourage our souls the way our Father in heaven can.
Do you know that God doesn’t want you to give up? He wants you to keep loving your husband, serving your kids, caring about people who need you, working hard in your home…
So maybe you just need to ask Him to privately encourage your heart so you can keep going?