By Carol Round – “So, encourage each other and help each other grow stronger in faith, just as you are already doing”—1 Thessalonians 5:11(ERV).
Meeting over lunch with a Christian friend, I wanted to encourage her during her time of uncertainty and need. She’d lost her job and was now working at our church as the senior pastor’s administrative assistant. However, the pay was much less than her previous job.
Since I could relate, I shared stories of how God had provided for me after I retired almost 20 years ago. After taxes and health insurance, I could barely meet my needs. I’d obeyed God’s leading when I left my 30-year teaching career to write full-time. But He provided not only for my needs but opened doors of opportunity. Those doors led to ways to supplement my retirement income. My faith grew through those tough times.
As I continued to share the stories of God’s miraculous provision at just the right times in my life, my friend was amazed. I also knew, without a doubt, that my friend was in the right place, serving in our church. I’m also not the only church member who believes our friend is right where God wants her.
Right Where God Wants Us
There are many examples in scripture of God placing people right where He wanted them. One such example is the prophet, Jeremiah. Known as the Weeping Prophet, Jeremiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah in the Old Testament. Before Judah ultimately fell to Babylon and was led away into captivity, God sent Jeremiah to this crumbling nation to warn of their impending demise—a warning they didn’t heed.
This was a stressful time for Jeremiah. But, Jeremiah, the ever-faithful servant didn’t give up. Despite being severely persecuted for his God-given message, Jeremiah continued to warn the wayward Israelites.
However, in Jeremiah 29:11, the prophet writes the following to encourage the exiled Israelites, who were now in captivity in Babylon. “I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future”(NCV).
Hope and a Good Future
God wants His people to encourage each other because He knows we need it. In the Gospel of John, Jesus warned that “in this world you will have trouble,” which He then followed with a much-needed encouragement: “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
G.K. Chesterton, an English writer, and Christian apologist wrote the following: “If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.”
Each time I encourage someone with my testimony, I, too, am encouraged. As I share, I’m reminded of how God has been with me always, not just after my retirement. Looking back, I can see His fingerprints throughout the course of my almost 70 years on this earth. What about you? Are you encouraging others in their faith walk?