So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now.1 Thessalonians 5:11
During this lockdown this verse seems to be so appropriate as people feel the pressure of being cooped up in their homes, some losing their jobs and others trying to cope with the loss of a loved one.
We all at times need encouraging. As it has been said, it is easy to knock someone or be negative, but a lot harder it seems to give encouragement.
When I visited America I went to a school and saw a school run. There was one young lad struggling to compete, in fact he came last. His teacher came up and praised him for sticking at the race and completing it. How refreshing it was as I saw the young lad going from discouragement to encouragement. You see the teacher did not dwell on the fact the young lad was last, but rather he completed the race which he encouraged the young lad was an achievement.
There was an incident at the 1992 Olympic Games, please check it out:
Here is summary of that event.
Derek Redmond with the help of his father completed his race in the 1992 Olympics. Down the backstretch, only 175 meters away from finishing, Redmond hears a pop. In his right hamstring. He pulls up lame as if he had been shot. As he lay on the track, clutching his right hamstring, a medical personnel unit runs toward him. At the same time, Jim Redmond, seeing his son in trouble, races down from the top row of the stands, sidestepping people, bumping into others. He has no credential to be on the track, but all he thinks about is getting to his son, to help him up. “I wasn’t going to be stopped by anyone,” he later tells the media.
On the track, Redmond realises his dream of an Olympic medal is gone. Tears run down his face. “All I could think was, ‘I’m out of the Olympics — again,'” he would say. As the medical crew arrives with a stretcher, Redmond tells them, “No, there’s no way I’m getting on that stretcher. I’m going to finish my race.” Then, in a moment that will live forever in the minds of millions, Redmond lifts himself to his feet, ever so slowly, and starts hobbling down the track. The other runners have finished the race, with Steve Lewis of the U.S. winning the contest in 44.50. Suddenly, everyone realises that Redmond isn’t dropping out of the race by hobbling off to the side of the track. No, he is actually continuing on one leg. He’s going to attempt to hobble his way to the finish line. All by himself. All in the name of pride and heart.
Slowly, the crowd, in total disbelief, rises and begins to roar. The roar gets louder and louder. Through the searing pain, Redmond hears the cheers, but “I wasn’t doing it for the crowd,” he would later say. “I was doing it for me. Whether people thought I was an idiot or a hero, I wanted to finish the race. I’m the one who has to live with it.”
One painful step at a time, each one a little slower and more painful than the one before, his face twisted with pain and tears, Redmond limps onward, and the crowd, many in tears, cheer him on.
Suddenly, Jim Redmond finally gets to the bottom of the stands, leaps over the railing avoids a security guard, and runs out to his son, with two security people chasing after him. “That’s my son out there,” he yells back to security, “and I’m going to help him.”
Finally, with Derek refusing to surrender and painfully limping along the track, Jim reaches his son at the final curve, about 120 meters from the finish, and wraps his arm around his waist.
“I’m here, son,” Jim says softly, hugging his boy. “We’ll finish together.” Derek puts his arms around his father’s shoulders and sobs.
Together, arm in arm, father and son, with 65,000 people cheering, clapping and crying, finish the race, just as they vowed they would. A couple of steps from the finish line, and with the crowd in an absolute frenzy, Jim releases the grip he has on his son, so Derek could cross the finish line by himself. Then he throws his arms around Derek again, both crying, along with everyone in the stands and on TV.
“I’m the proudest father alive,” he tells the press afterwards, tears in his eyes. “I’m prouder of him than I would have been if he had won.
Today, the NHS have been heroes and we encourage them by clapping. This week we have been celebrating Florence Nightingale, the founder of the nurses who sums up all that needs to be said in encouragement and strength. Her reason a call from God.
You and I have the same call from God to be encouragers and strengthen those who need it. So why not decide to throw away the negative discouragement we often can portray and live out the verse we started with, So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now.
Tomorrow we will look at a man called Barnabas who lived out his life as someone who would give encouragement and strength when others had written people off.
So if you want to know how to live a life of encouragement and strength tune in tomorrow as we look at this man Barnabas.