Encourage. Mirriam-Webster says it is: to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope, to attempt to persuade, to spur on. The word is found in the Bible fifty-four times, fifteen in the Old Testament and thirty-nine in the New. God’s people have always needed encouragement. They have faced exile, enemies, slavery, the consequences of their sin, persecution, oppression, prison, beatings, and death. The New Testament writers encouraged the persecuted first-century Christians with two facts:
- Jesus Christ is alive. Paul said simply, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again” (1 Thess 4:14a)
- Jesus Christ is coming again. “The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess 16-18).
I can blow sunshine in your face all day long, but nothing will encourage you like “these words.” The living Lord Jesus is coming again. That is the hope that has sustained every persecuted Christ-follower and every martyr for more than two thousand years. The truth is, we still need this same encouragement. Being a Christian is not only unpopular – in some places it is deadly. But the confidence we have in Jesus’ resurrection and return will sustain us.
This world is not getting better, it is getting worse. But you and I can find courage by remembering that our Lord and Savior is alive and He is coming again to redeem this sin-sick world and take His rightful place on the throne. Beloved, rest your heart and your hope in Him. Be encouraged.