Expecting Encouragement

Feeling Encouraged

Encouragement can feel a variety of ways. When I’m encouraged, I’m any number of the following…

  • Motivated — Appreciated — Energized — Hopeful
  • Validated — Inspired — Reassured — Comforted
  • Supported — Positive — Enthused — Supported

When I’m encouraged, I’m more patient as well as more motivated to pursue peace with others. Encouragement just makes me an all-around better person. Does it do the same for you?

Expecting Encouragement

When I expect encouragement from other people, I’m always disappointed. They never meet my expectation, usually because they’re too high and/or because they just don’t know what they are and have no way of knowing. Also, I want encouragement from others to be authentic, a genuine part of who they are, and not from a place of obligation and should.

When I expect encouragement from God, I’m never disappointed. He goes beyond my expectations and far surpasses anything I can hope or imagine.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Beyond Expectations

What does it mean to not only receive encouragement from God but to have what He gives go well beyond what we can think of or even imagine? Maybe you are like I once was and how Han Solo so perfectly expresses…

“I don’t know. I can imagine quite a bit.” (Star Wars: A New Hope)

God’s encouragement always seems to be surprises and unexpected even when they happen every day.

  • A sunrise or sunset
  • Ocean waves
  • A child’s laughter
  • A smile from a stranger

Even though He so faithfully and consistently doles out encouragement, I still find myself surprised by it.

God encourages through the people we know as well as through the daily events in our lives too. He encourages us in many unusual ways too. Take a minute and think about the ways God has encouraged you recently in through these areas.

Really, there are simply too many ways to list. You just don’t always realize that until you get going. I find that once I start to list them, I have a hard time stopping. I’ll simply list how scripture says we are encouraged by God:

1. Through the Holy Spirit

“The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.” (Acts 9:31)

2. Through Scripture

“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” (Romans 15:4)

3. Through our position in Christ

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?” (Philippians 2:1)

When I experience all the emotions that can accompany being encouraged, I better understand what Isaiah meant when he wrote what has become one of the most quoted passages of Scripture.

“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:29-31)

While I’m changed in many ways when I am encouraged by the Lord, the biggest impact comes in a desire to encourage others. Encouragement is just one of those gifts you don’t want to keep for yourself.

The Reality of Your Focus

focus-1464320-1597x470

Notice the Theme

In Star Wars I: Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn directs young Anakin toward a way of thinking that really drives the entire movie series:

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”

This theme actually runs throughout many books and movies. In most cases, it stands out with little effort put toward seeing it. As a Christian, I also see this theme throughout Scripture.

The truth that “focus determines reality” stands out the most in the Old Testament as God’s people continually struggle with focus, casting it from God Almighty to foreign god’s multiple times.

“This disaster happened because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt and because they had worshiped other gods. They had lived according to the customs of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites and the customs the kings of Israel had introduced.” (2 Kings 17:7-8)

The theme also comes alive in Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” (Proverbs 4:24)

“Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then your will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:2-5)

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

The theme shows up in the New Testament too.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5)

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

Applying the Theme

FocusThis theme of “focus determines reality” has become one of continual application for me. And even though I regularly visit its status in my life, I still intentionally hone in on it a bit more at the start of every new year. This year, that deliberate focus came out in the form of three separate posts.

Pursuing a Quiet Life — A peaceful inner life permeates the outer, physical state of a person. It’s a deliberate effort that benefits not just our own lives but the lives of the people around us too by witnessing to the impact of the presence of God in a person’s life.

Balanced Goal Setting — We certainly should pursue our ideas and make plans as best we can. We also need to keep in mind that He ultimately accomplishes His will regardless of what we plan. With that, we need to leave room for the unexpected and be willing to love and pursue His will over our own.

Diligent, Peaceable and Occupied — These words give a deeper understanding toward what it means to focus on developing and living a quiet life. This focus also helps us accomplish the work God gives each individual in a productive and effective way.

My prayer is that this theme permeates your life too as you realize the importance of deciding your focus in the determination of your reality and how doing so falls within God’s design and plan for your life.

DISCUSSION: How have you seen the theme “your focus determines your reality” played out in your own life?

Note: For more Scripture examples, see “What the Bible says about staying focused.”

How to… Develop Wisdom

As stated in How to… Be Victorious, there’s a big difference between knowledge alone and knowledge with understanding (Proverbs 4:7). But what exactly is that difference, and how do we move from having knowledge to living with wisdom?

In my health journey, I obtained a lot of knowledge from a lot of different sources. This knowledge led to several lessons, which I detail in How to… Obtain Knowledge, that I still use today as I struggle through to victory in other areas of my life.

Yet, I remain aware of the fact that knowledge means very little without application that demonstrates understanding and that also shows the growth of wisdom.

When I was very sick over 2 ½ years ago, I crashed. For me, this meant that I could not handle my life as it was at the time, and something had to give. I was simply physically and mentally spent and exhausted. My body gave up on me. We had also just adopted our youngest son, and this took an added toll on me mentally and spiritually. He needed things from me that I just didn’t have to give.

So, my husband and I made some tough choices, the first of which was me quitting my job. Not an easy decision considering the extra money it brought in and that it was offering even more… a move from ¾ to full time. We did this so I could focus on getting healthy.

My two top priorities then became my own physical health and the mental health of our new son, who also had a great deal of healing of his own to do.

So where does wisdom fall in all of this? The following points detail the growth of wisdom during this time in my life, aspects which continue growing still today.

  1. Wisdom sometimes comes through wise counsel (Proverbs 13:10). Not all the advice I received was wise even though it came from knowledgeable sources. Several doctors simply got the diagnosis wrong, but one godly source got it right and gave me a tremendous amount of wisdom that led to the health I now experience today.
  2. Discernment plays a huge role in going from knowledge to wisdom. How did I know when advice I received was truly wisdom for my life? Discernment. Discernment comes from God (James 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:10) and from His Word (Acts 17:11) as we go to Him on a consistent basis and not just to put out fires.
  3. Fear of the Lord can be a tremendous motivation. Proverbs 1:7 tells us that wisdom begins with fearing God. I knew that being constantly sick, tired and irritable was not only not God’s will, but it also took me out of following His will in almost all other areas of my life. Being healthy and strong to be able to please and serve Him to the best of my ability pushed me toward healing

Over time and through small revelations that added up to make a big difference, the Holy Spirit led me to a place of understanding and wisdom with regard to healing in my life. About the time that journey began, I was lead to read the book of Isaiah. One portion of Isaiah is not only highlighted but also has the date “Spring 2010” next to it.

“But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Every time I read these verses, their truth resonates in my spirit. I felt and still feel like God was giving me wisdom by saying to me, “I will show you the way through. I will refresh you along the way.” That was my turning point. That was the place where I knew I was on the right track for healing.

DISCUSSION:  What advice can you add regarding obtaining wisdom?

Related Posts:

A Father’s Wise Advice

Overwhelmed with God

 Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader