Acts 13:2-3; 11:22-24
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
(Arriving in Antioch) “News of this (news of revival) reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”
How valuable and powerful are words of encouragement to us in times of hardship, grief, distress, and suffering? Being encouraged literally means to ‘be inspired by someone with courage, spirit, and hope.’ Further, it is a means to ‘make someone more determined, hopeful, and confident.’ There are days when life seems to bring us to the end of ourselves, at which time we can become extremely discouraged, feeling powerless and hopeless to see a clearer path on our journey. God as our greatest source of encouragement sends His hope and encouragement to us through His word, and the comfort of His Spirit. But He also provides encouragement by placing individuals into our lives whose specific purpose is to come along beside us, simply for companionship and encouragement.
We know God had radically changed Paul’s life from one who had a troubled past which included persecuting Christians, yet his life was transformed by Christ, with a new purpose and mission. But God, in His infinite wisdom, understood that Paul would need a close companion, an ‘encourager’ to accompany him along his spiritual journey for the Lord. As our journey in the Lord continues, we need those same type of encouragers in our lives in the form of a close friend, a mentor, a spouse, etc. by which God will continually use to remind us of His truth about who we are in Him, and that we too, like Paul, have a renewed purpose each day.
As Paul and Barnabas were ‘set apart’ for the Lord, so too, we are set apart for His purpose for our lives. As we’re reminded in Ephesians 2:10, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared for us to do in advance.” However, in the moments of life when the truth of God becomes “blurry,” those people whom God has placed in our lives become a conduit for His encouragement empowering us to take that “next” necessary step to live and thrive in Christ for another day. Barnabas encouraged the believers, “to remain true to the Lord with all their all hearts.” When we find ourselves in difficult moments, days, or seasons of uncertainty, God uses these most precious people in our lives to help us to press through and press on in the strength of Christ as Paul was reminded by the Lord in 1 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Furthermore, quite often after we’ve passed through a storm in our path we find ourselves becoming encouragers to others along their life’s journey.
Connecting Faith & Life:
Father, today I thank You for being our greatest source of encouragement for this journey through Your word and Spirit. I also thank You that in Your infinite wisdom You place like-minded agents of encouragement in our lives at just the right moments so that we can be reminded of who You are and that we never journey alone. May we draw near to You and may You strengthen us to remain true to You with all of our hearts even when the path is unclear and the future seems uncertain. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.