By Charles R. Swindoll
Published by Multnomah Press, Portland Oregon
ISBN 0 930014 95 2
"One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement It is easy to laugh at men's ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world if full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word." William Barclay.
When you're aching for encouragement this is a wonderful book that will bless and sooth your wounded soul.
Part one: "Encourage me, Lord" deals with the person begging to be encouraged. The one with the frowning face, drooping shoulders, pleading eyes, who shows his/her need through unguarded comments and unsuppressed sighs.
Discouragement can feel like a dry, barren wind off a desert; or a chilling mist that numbs the spirit and fogs our path. We all are in need of a refuge, a protective place, of safety, security and secrecy.
Discouraged people don't need critics, they hurt enough already, there is no need for more guilt or piled-on stress.
Swindoll stresses the importance to admit our needs and call for help which is so difficult to do. (And often nobody seems to hear us.)
Through Scripture he shows us how God's word is our refuge. God uses the difficult times in our lives to refine us and uses these times in order for us to be able to encourage others.
Part two is called, "Encourage me Lord?"
Christians are people who have to be out where the "bottom line theology is top-shelf priority". Sunday saints in shining armor should be put into circulation, like the statutes in the Cathedrals that Cromwell's ordered to "be melted down and put into circulation".
In typical Swindoll style, the book is full of practical tips, and full of humor. The heart of encouragement is projecting cordiality, like:
1. Give a warm smile. Some long-faced saints would crack their concrete masks if they smiled.
2. Give a solid handshake. This is a rare remaining species threatened with extinction in the family of touch.
3. Cordiality cannot be expressed indirectly, which calls for direct eye contact.
4. Words of encouragement must be fresh and to the point, no clichés or flatter.
Christians need a strong commitment to encourage others, for the lack of encouragement is epidemic.
Henry Drummond wondered,
"How many prodigals are kept out of the kingdom of God by the unlovely characters of those who profess to be inside." (Ouch)
An individual is never more Christ-like than when full of compassion for those who are down, needy, discouraged or forgotten.
Encouragement is awesome, for it has the power to draw an immortal soul to the God of hope.
It takes courage to trust God, believe in ourselves and reach a hand to others.
When God's Spirit lives in us, His Spirit will "come alongside" and encourage us, day after day.
We may encourage ourselves in the LORD, our God. (From 1 Samuel 30:6).
A book that lovingly encourages those in need of a spiritual hug, but also a book that teaches how we can (and should) come "alongside" those around us that need affirmation and encouragement.
Petra van der Zande, (often writing under her pen-name Christina Boerma) is a free-lance writer, living in Israel. Together with her husband, they are foster parents of 3 special needs children. http://christinaboerma.com