Can you remember a time when someone gave you loving words of encouragement that were so powerful, and when you heard them, they shifted your thinking? At a recent women’s retreat at my own home church, we had a special exercise that prompted reflection about being encouraged by someone else. Words of encouragement are often just what someone needs to continue on, to make a decision or to just feel loved, and being the recipient of encouragement is something I think we can all agree is just plain luscious!
During the exercise at the retreat, I reflected on a time when I was in GREAT need of encouragement. Someone I look up to and love had beaten me up verbally, and the wounds had cut so deeply that I was ready to throw in the towel and allow those painful words to destroy what I had believed was God’s calling on my life.
I’m not sure if the person who said those words had any idea of their negative impact or destructive nature; however, I could not shake their lingering effects. I cried out to God in my anguish and distress seeking comfort and wisdom and discernment from Him. For weeks, I was wrestling with the voice and words that had been hurled at me until one day I found myself sharing just a little bit of the incident with a mentor of mine. Just when I thought I couldn’t go on with my work, she said to me, “Esther, you can’t give up! You have so many lives to touch. You can’t not share your gifts, talents and faith. If you don’t remember anything else from our time together, I want you to remember this…You are delicious!”
Me? Delicious? I was thinking that blackberry ice cream is delicious. A Snickers bar is delicious. But, you know what? Those three words have stayed with me and reminded me of the power of being encouraged.
At our retreat, we spent time in Psalm 119, which just happens to be a favorite of mine, because of these verses:
Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. ~Psalm 119:29 (NLT)
This verse is really powerful, because we can believe the lies others say or we can believe the truths and instructions of God. Unfortunately, when we are on the receiving end of hurtful words, we can tend to go to that place of defense and retaliation. We can also believe the lies from others and the lies we tell ourselves. The next verse tells us what David decided to do instead,
I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations.
Now we know, David had some serious problems with following God’s regulations and remaining faithful to Him, but in that one verse, we find that during that time, David knew that he needed to stop lying to himself and be faithful and heed God’s instructions.
Although we are to seek the counsel of others as we are reminded in Proverbs:
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
~Proverbs 15:22 (ESV)
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. ~Proverbs 19:20 (ESV)
However, in seeking counsel from others, we need to be very discerning. We need to pray that God will place those people in our lives who will take the time to look beyond the surface and seek full understanding of any situation before ‘spouting off’ their own thoughts and advice based on human emotions. One of the verses I keep in front of me at all times is from the very wise Apostle Paul,
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Whether we are seeking encouragement, counsel and encouragement from other humans or we are offering encouragement to another, ultimately, we remember that it is God that we are seeking to please, not humans. This is so hard, especially when someone we love and admire lets us down. We are reminded that we are not seeking man’s approval, but God’s and God knows and whispers to you and me….
“You are delicious!”
If we rest all our laurels on the counsel of man, we will be disappointed and discouraged from time to time, but if we seek God’s approval and seek to please him above all, then he will send us what we need. He promises to be faithful and he has also assured us that:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
~2 Peter 1:3
It is HIS DIVINE POWER that gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness. In closing, may we learn the lesson to be the one who encourages. May we use our words to build others up and not tear them down. Maybe we need to just tell someone that they need to stop listening to the lies of others; stop listening to their own lies and heed God’s voice above all.
Until next time, have you started the Take 21 Adventure yet? If not, now is a great time to get started, download your FREE copy of the excerpt from my book: Take 21: Bursts of Quiet with God.