“How are you doing? Really doing? How are you handling your hard week?” she asked. Then she followed those questions up with, “Can I pray for you right now?”
Encouragement--we would recognize it anywhere. It’s like a gentle push forward when we’ve run out of energy. It’s like seeing the familiar shape of home when we’ve been gone far too long. It’s like sitting down to a nourishing meal after a hard day’s work. It’s like seeing the sun after hours of pouring rain.
When someone encourages us, we stand straighter. We feel reinvigorated. We move with purpose and meaning. We are strengthened and ready for what lies ahead.
In our world, encouragement often looks like fans in the stands watching a sports game. They cheer and shout. They might say, “You’ve got this!” “You can do it!” “Go, go, go!” And while such statements are invigorating, they are different than the encouragement we see in the Bible. Biblical encouragement is more than just saying nice things to someone. Its purpose is deeper than boosting someone’s self-esteem by telling them, “You can do it!” And it’s not like an inspiring message from the coach to rally the team before the big game.
The Greek word for encourage is parakaleo. It is used in the New Testament to describe not only giving comfort to someone, but it also involves exhortation, urging, strengthening, and even appealing...
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