“We all have different gifts, based on the grace given us … If it is encouraging, devote yourself to encouraging others.”

Romans 12:6-8

A few weeks back my husband was having a really hard day. I couldn’t remember the last time he was quite this discouraged. I prayed with him and he went back to work. When he came home that night, he told me about a man who accidentally called him (which we obviously know it was no accident). He said the man hadn’t meant to call him but instead of hanging up, this man left him a message thanking him for his ministry to his family while we lived in Colorado. The Lord used that man to speak powerfully to my husband that day, to let him know, “Hey, you’re making a difference, and what you do really matters.” It was like water to a weary soul that day.

That, my friends, was no accident. The Lord knew exactly what he needed.

Also recently, I received an email from someone I had met two years ago at a writer’s conference. She read one of my articles in which I had shared about my past. She said she remembered the joy I had at that writer’s conference, and said that after reading about my past, it made it even more powerful. She didn’t have to encourage me with her words, but she did. I was so thankful for this sweet woman who blessed and encouraged me with her words.

There is something powerful in the act of encouraging someone. The Hebrew word for encourage is chazaq, which means, “to make strong or firm.” Encouragement has power. This is the scripture I try to live my life by: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act” (Proverbs 3:27). I love this. It’s not about when it’s convenient, or when it will serve my motives, but when it is in my power to act.

When I wake up each day, I ask God to show me at least one person I can encourage. Whether it is a smile to the check out lady, an encouraging word to a frazzled mom, a compliment to the woman at church. There are many ways to serve up a scooping of encouragement: you can send a quick email telling someone they did a good job at something, you can text them letting them know you are thinking of them & praying for them, you can bake cookies for someone who is feeling down, you can Facebook an encouraging word or scripture to someone. You will never know how powerful this is in someone’s life!

And there’s also the power of encouragement through the spoken word; speak life into someone!  Proverbs 12:25 says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” This power of encouragement isn’t just for our girlfriends or strangers, it’s also for our families too! Whenever you speak encouragement to your child, just watch their face light up. Our husbands also really need our encouragement! We need to realize the power we hold as their wives to literally build them up or tear them down. Remember, do not withhold good when it is in your power to act.

I read the following story and was deeply moved. Dale Galloway tells this story of a young boy named Teddy Stollard. He was not the kind of kid who got invited to parties. He slouched in his chair and looked bored most of the time; he only spoke when called upon, and then in monosyllables. He never dressed right, and he had smelly clothes; he was a rather unattractive boy.

Whenever his teacher would mark Teddy’s papers, she got a certain perverse pleasure out of marking all the wrong answers. She would put the “F” on top with a little flair. She might have known better, because his history was on record:

First grade: Teddy is a good boy and shows promise, but has a poor home situation.

Second grade: Teddy is quiet and withdrawn. His mother is terminally ill.

Third grade: Teddy is falling behind. His mother died this year; his father is uninvolved.

Fourth grade: Teddy is hopelessly backward. His father has moved away; Teddy’s living with an aunt. He is deeply troubled.

Christmas came, and all the children brought presents to school. They were carefully wrapped, except for Teddy’s, which was packaged in brown paper and held together with tape and marked, “For Miss Thompson. From Teddy.”

The teacher would open the gifts one by one for the class to admire. When she opened Teddy’s, it was a rhinestone bracelet with most of the stones missing, and a bottle of perfume that was mostly gone. The other children started to laugh, but Miss Thompson caught herself. Snapping on the bracelet, she said: “Isn’t it lovely, class? And doesn’t the perfume smell good?”

At the end of the class, Teddy approached her shyly. “I’m glad you liked my gifts, Miss Thompson,” he whispered. “All day long you smelled like my mother. And her bracelet looked nice on you, too.”

After he left, Miss Thompson put her head down on the desk and cried. She asked God to forgive her. She prayed that God would help her to see what He sees when she looks at a motherless boy.

When the children came back to school the next day, Miss Thompson was a new teacher. She tutored the children who needed extra help, Teddy most of all. By the end of the year he had caught up with most of his classmates and was ahead of some. After that, she didn’t hear from him for quite a while. Then one day she received a note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted you to be the first to know I am graduating from high school, and I am second in my class.

Love, Teddy Stollard

Four years later came another note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted you to be the first to know I am graduating first in my class. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.

Love, Teddy Stollard

Four years later, another note:

Dear Miss Thompson,

I wanted to you be the first to know that as of today I am Theodore J. Stollard, M.D. How about that? I want you to come sit where my mother would have sat, because you’re the nearest thing to family that I’ve had.

Love, Teddy Stollard

This is a beautiful story about a teacher who realized she had the power to encourage someone. As you can see, his life was forever changed because someone took the time; someone went out of their way to actually care. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I cannot tell you how many times I have received encouragement at just the right time. I can only pray that I might do the same for others. You really don’t have to look too far to find someone that is feeling discouraged or carrying a heavy heart. As God’s people, I pray that we would seek out opportunities to let our light shine. Would you agree with me that this world could use a little more sunshine?

Lord, thank you that every time I read your Word, I receive encouragement from You. Now would You help me to carry that into the lives of others? Help me to shine my light, that others would see these good works and glorify You in Heaven. Use me Lord to bring encouragement to your people. Give me a servant’s heart. Open my eyes to those who are discouraged around me and give me the words to speak into their lives. Give me creative ways to encourage someone today! I will be quick to give You all the glory! Amen.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Galatians 6:10