The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 119:165)
To be sure, we are living in distressing times unlike anything we have faced in the past. Yet we have a stronghold promised to us in times of trouble—times such as right now, when we are in the midst of the spread of COVID-19.
When I look for a biblical definition of encouragement, I understand it as God’s supernatural way to fill us with cosmic courage to keep going when we would rather not. We have all experienced encouragement, and we know instinctively how to recognize it when it shows up. It’s a word that speaks and a work that shows just how much someone cares. It’s like seeing that rainbow arcing across the sky after a day of pouring, pounding rain, a message from our God that shouts to us, “I am with you . . . I am for you . . . and I have gone before you!”
In the New Testament, the Greek word for “encourage” is parakaleo, which means to bring comfort, but also to strengthen, to exhort, to urge. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 we are commanded to “Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” If we all need encouragement—and we do—then we all need to be encouragers. Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12). Who in your life right now could use a little extra encouragement from you with a word you can speak or a work you can show, knowing that you simply cannot give without also receiving?
It is my prayer that this Amid Covid series will provide a source of biblical encouragement to you and those you love as we all walk and work together to slow the spread of this virus for the glory of God and the good of all our neighbors. In this unprecedented time, which has cast a shadow of fear over the entire world, let our faith in the Savior be a source of hope and comfort—not only for ourselves, but for all those with whom we come in contact.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
I’ll be back again on Friday. You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Purpose and Passion,