I can remember many special words of encouragement in my life, the people who spoke them, and often even the settings they were spoken in. Unfortunately, I can also remember words that tore me down. Sometimes the latter were spoken without awareness that I overheard or heard secondhand. Some left scars and redirected my focus and friendships. Thankfully the words of encouragement have effected me most. I am always energized by the knowledge that someone believes in me. Encouragement is “the wind beneath my wings”. Encouragers really are heroes, and have a knack at finding the encouragement that belongs with constructive criticism, and they also possess patience, humility, and a desire to listen.
Though I know enough about planes and flying to fill the saddlebags of a flea, I believe that as air currents supply lift to somehow supplement the flight of a plane, so words of encouragement lift us up to do that which God has put in our hearts to do. Without encouragement, much creativity and revelation sits on the ground waiting for the needed lift, or nosedives shortly after takeoff. Among definitions for the word “lift” in the “Free Dictionary” is, “To yield to upward pressure.” Applying this definition to encouragement, it’s a pleasurable yield and pressure, indeed.
Christopher Crisp, a guest columnist for “The Dispatch” wrote on encouragement in the April 12, 2007 issue. “I remember sweet people – the people who were non-judgmental. These ‘sweet people’ have a spirit about them that is infectious to all they come in contact with. These people put their strength at our disposal.” They are the “gap standers” in our lives, and demonstrate how we’re to be the same to others. Since our own burdens are lightened when we bother to encourage others, we miss out when we choose to neglect the ministry of encouragement, or worse, engage in discouragement. Crisp goes on to say, “There are many ways we can encourage others; a card, hug, handshake, a quiet visit just to listen or just a sincere compliment.” To a discerning person in need of true encouragement, the detection of fakery, flattery and attention getting scenarios is usually on high alert and they are not taken in by them.
Sometimes we just have to find encouragement with our God, whether or not anyone else encourages us. When disaster struck David and his men by the burning of Ziklag and the heart wrenching scandal of their women having been taken captive, everyone was distraught and blamed David, who was also grief stricken. “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
Encouragement can definitely be found all alone with our God even if it seems everyone around us is against us, or neglectful, though hopefully that doesn’t happen often. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” (2 Tim. 4:17)
Our ultimate “Gap Stander” is Christ who is constantly interceding for us, fighting for us, pushing back the darkness, and most amazingly, gave up His life for us so that we could be a joint heir with him and spend eternity with the Father.