Encouragement … A gift to give away

Joan Clayton: Religion columnist

I planted a little seedling tree several years ago. In time other trees surrounded it, crowding it and shading it from sunshine. So much for the tree, I thought.

You can see that I love trees, so I planted another one in a wide open space. I watered this tree, fertilized and pampered it. It just seemed to sit there in spite of all my attention.

Little by little the other tree that had no room to grow, seemed to flourish. Today it is the tallest tree of all. That tree taught me a lot about life. It persisted even in trying circumstances. If trees could talk, I think the other trees would have said, “You little squirt — you’re not going to make it!” But it did. Persistence pays off. Day by day progress is made, no matter how small.

Do you ever feel discouraged? Does life seem to surround you with problems on every side? Does everything that can go wrong go wrong? My seedling didn’t seem to have much going for it, but it persisted.

King David didn’t have much going for him either. In 1 Samuel 30:6 he felt discouragement big time. His men even talked about stoning him. Instead of being overwhelmed by his situation, David turned to God, sought guidance and emerged victorious. “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” I love this statement. What a statement for us today.

Of all the obstacles and tactics of the enemy, I think discouragement is chief among the worst. With discouragement comes depression, apathy and a defeatist attitude.

I relish in the spirit of hurricane evacuees. Their courage and determination to bounce back demonstrates the strength of the people. Circumstances cannot break them.

I am convinced if I allow my thoughts to bring discouragement that is exactly what I will have. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… (Proverbs 23:7 KJV). I want to be “transformed by the renewing of my mind” (Romans 12:2.) I must go on with the Lord no matter what I am going through because circumstances can make me or break me.
There is only one safe place I can be in this world… in the arms of Jesus. If there is no cross, there is no crown. If there is no conflict, there is no conqueror. I boldly say, “Pain is weakness leaving!”

God’s child boldly declares: “We will rise up. We will be successful…not failures. We are more than conquerors. We are confident in the Lord. Our inner being is renewed day by day. We have hope that something good is going to happen. We expect the best. We have a victorious attitude. We are not “quitters.” We are God’s most prized possession. We are not failures. We turn disappointments into God’s appointments. We are loved and highly favored. With God all things are possible.”

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17).

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Discouragement is the “pits.” So let us be the world’s best encouragers. Encourage just one person each day. This life is exciting. I call it “delicious!” It’s an adventure.

Encouraging others brings out the best in people. It shows your interest and your appreciation. It tells them they are important to you. God will help you be sensitive to someone who needs a pat on the back, a hug, a kind word and a helping hand. You will find that encouraging others is a good habit. By encouraging someone else you too become encouraged. Encouragement is one of life’s valuable gifts.

Kick discouragement out! Have an encouraging word when your husband or children go out the door for the day. Encourage your pastor for bringing a message of hope. Compliment others’ achievements.
It’s a great world. I’m glad I live in it!