Links Daily Devotional

Links Daily Devotional editor Jeff Hopper presents a lesson in encouragement from 2 Thessalonians.

For Dark Days

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, NIV)

Golf can be a painful game.

I had a buddy who told a woeful tale last week of accidentally hitting himself in the head so hard with his putter, he knocked himself woozy. That is, the severity of the blow was accidental. He wasn’t fessing up all the way, but I’m guessing there was a personal reprimand involved.

For each of us who has ever told ourselves that this little putt before us is “to win the U.S. Open,” we might also confess that we’ve also uttered—ever so sincerely—“I’m never playing this game again.”

What do you need on such days as these? A little encouragement.

Certainly among the circle of friends God has given us in our walk with his Son, we recognize the power of encouragement. A phone call, a notecard, a text, or a quick exchange after a meeting—these provide opportunity to speak soothing words of understanding and hope when times are tough.

Barnabas, whose very name evoked encouragement, practiced his moniker. We read in Acts 11 that he arrived in Antioch and upon seeing the faith of the believers there “encouraged them to all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” This was a good work, but perhaps it was more easily done because this was already their proclivity.

But what of those times when we are so downtrodden that the words of even our dearest friends do little to lift us? Is there any encouragement in such times as these?

Consider the words of Paul to the Thessalonians. He prayed that they would receive encouragement not just from him or another brother or sister in the faith. No, he asked that God himself would be their encouragement. This was an encouragement they had already received through the hope they had been granted for eternity. But now he asked that God would encourage them further, in their words and in their deeds.

Such prayers were of great value in the dark first century days of persecution and attack. Paul himself knew such trials, and he knew where to turn so that his spirit would not be overwhelmed. Gladly, we can turn to the same source of encouragement, to our Savior himself, for the hour when we are so close to drowning in our troubles.

Jeff Hopper
March 31, 2014
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