By Lisa Wiersema
We Need Encouragement
In 1952, Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions, attempted to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island and the California coastline. As she began, she was flanked by small boats that watched for sharks and were prepared to help her if she got hurt or grew tired. After about 15 hours a thick fog set in. Florence began to doubt her ability, and she told her mother, who was in one of the boats, that she didn’t think she could make it. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, unable to see the coastline due to the fog. Sitting in the boat, she found out she had stopped swimming just one mile away from her destination. Two months later, she tried again. The same thick fog rolled in, but she succeeded in swimming to Catalina. Keeping a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam enabled her to reach it.
Why do we need encouragement? Because we need to persevere. And our perseverance is not determined, as we often believe, by the ease or severity of our circumstances, but by the thoughts we think about them. How we think directly effects our will to continue to walk in obedience to God and His call on our lives. I need encouragement because, in the fog of painful, difficult, discouraging circumstances, I often can’t see the glorious destination God has promised me or even His promises to daily strengthen me to keep swimming. I need others who love me, and who have a clearer view, to give me an accurate picture of my situation: God is for me in Christ. This life is a dot and eternity in His presence is the never-ending line. He will never leave me or forsake me. He who cannot lie has promised to complete the work He began in me!
In this fight to persevere, we also have an enemy. Our enemy wants us to forget or disbelieve the reality of the spiritual realm and God’s faithful and continual work advancing His kingdom through us. Encouragement in God’s truth strengthens our wobbly arms to hold up the impenetrable shield of faith, causing the evil one’s accusations, discouragements, and half-truths to fall, splintered and futile.
If we did not need regular and sustained encouragement from others who walk beside us in life in order to persevere and to deflect the constant arrows of the enemy, why would God’s Word repeatedly direct us to encourage one another? One of many such passages is Hebrews 3:13,”But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” The encouragement of brothers and sisters brings the truth we so need to hear, and reminds us that we are loved and cared for by both Christ and His people. I know that without the consistent, faithful, and loving encouragement of the Body helping me see the unseen, I would no longer be afloat. And it is by God’s good design that I so need others. Let’s strengthen each other to go the distance.