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Source of Encouragement

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.”
—Ian McLaren

This weekend, we are going to celebrate mothers. While they deserve far more than a day of celebration, this upcoming Mother’s Day has me thinking of the many different ways that moms bless our lives. I would say one of the strongest abilities a mother possesses is the way she can encourage her children. Yes, they are defenders, disciplinarians, caregivers, and so much more, but one thing I’ve noticed in the way my wife mothers our daughter is how naturally encouragement flows out of her.

It reminds me of the many times my own mother encouraged me to speak up, do my best, learn and grow. Or the times she’s affirmed me after a weekend when I felt my message didn’t go how I would’ve liked.

Mothers are some of our best encouragers.

Part of following Jesus in a community is that we get the opportunity to speak words of encouragement to those around us. The Scriptures invite us to step into the space of strengthening others, “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out His anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when He returns, we can live with Him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

Parakaleo, the word for “encourage” in Greek, is made up of two root words. Para is a preposition which means ‘besides or near’. Kaleo is a verb that means ‘to call’. Parakaleo literally means to call a person to one’s side. That is to say, encouraging someone is to draw them near to us. I can’t think of anyone who is better at doing this kind of relational work than a mother. They gather their children to them and pour out strength, guidance, correction, love, and courage.

This of course is difficult to do if we are not abiding in the love of God towards us. In other words, before we can encourage others, we must draw near to the Lord and receive strength from His heart to ours.

So, to those who are strong and doing well, whom is the Lord asking you to strengthen? To those in need of encouragement, how is the Lord asking us to draw near to Him or to someone who may be in a stronger place?

Whatever battle we may be facing, it’s important to remember that God is not pouring out His anger on us. Our battle is not a sign that God is against us. It may be the method God is using to refine, transform, and strengthen us. What Jesus did on the cross and through His resurrection has forever transformed all struggles to those who love Him. There is simply nothing that we can interpret as evidence that God is against us. This is why Paul was able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He chose to love us through Christ and asks us to give courage to each other for the battles we face.

So, as Mother’s day approaches, may we love our mothers well, and honor them by doing what they so often do, or have done, for us.

May we aim to be a source of encouragement.

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