Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.”
-Isaiah 35:1-4 (NASB)
“Hang in there, friend. It will all be worth it in the end. Just don’t give up and hang in there.”
During tough times those words can be a balm. Sure the braces hurt. But soon you will have straight teeth and a smile that’d stun a bear. During tough times those words can also seem empty. Sure I know I’ll have straight teeth but… it hurts! And I don’t have any idea when it’ll stop hurting! I had braces when I was a lad. They hurt. But I knew that one day they’d come off and my teeth would be straight. Or semi-straight, as the case turned out.
In this passage, Isaiah is telling Judah (leaders, most likely) that the Lord’s promise of restoration will one day come. Sure there will be exile and tough times in Babylon. But the tough times will serve as a purification and the remnant will come back to their land — restored and to be blessed once again. They just need to hang in there. Is someone having a tough time? Encourage them. Is someone’s faith slipping? Strengthen them.
Encouragement is a powerful force in the arsenal of a believer. I so often wish God had made me a natural encourager but the truth is that I have to work to encourage. It doesn’t just slip out. Or so I think. It’s an effort. But a worthwhile one at that.
I’ve seen encouragement bring someone back from the edge of despair. I’ve seen it take a soul past its current malaise into a higher level of, well, for lack of a better word, being. Another rung on the maturity ladder. That’s a better way to say it. I, myself, am someone in dire need of encouragement. Most “thinkers” need encouragement like water. We over analyze and critique ourselves until we feel like mud. But one kind word can make our day and impart great value.
So encourage the exhausted. Strengthen the feeble. Remind the anxious that God is real and He is loving.
He will deliver the suffering from their predicament. It may not be instant. But it WILL happen. So smile a smile, ever so faint but present nonetheless. Look after each other and share Christ with each other.