You know how sometimes you buy a toy for a kid, and it seems they almost get more enjoyment out of the box it comes in? A cardboard box can be a chief tool when combined with the powerful imagination of a child. If you have ever read the Calvin and Hobbes comics you know that Calvin can transform a cardboard box into a cloning machine, time machine, and a machine that can split his personalities in two. It is a powerful arsenal for the child.
But how does the parent view the cardboard box? Often times it is simply insignificant. Perhaps it is used to move items to the new house or store items in. Perhaps it is seen as an eyesore like my father sees them when my siblings and I leave cardboard boxes of personal belongings to remain stored in his basement rather than storing it at our own home. Chances are that the adult sees that cardboard box as pretty worthless. It does not bring about emotions of joy or excitement. It does not provide us with hours of entertainment. It doesn’t really even lift our spirits up.
Encouragement operates in a similar way. People need encouragement even more than a child needs a cardboard box. Encouragement helps someone get through the day. Life already does a fine job at beating us down. What we sometimes need is for someone to raise us back up. The amazing thing is that we all have the power to do that for someone! You have the power to change someone’s day from awful to incredible. Words have an incredible amount of power in the lives of others.
Here is the crazy thing; the person who gives the encouragement isn’t really even affected by it. It does not pain me to give encouragement to someone. It does not require this immense amount of effort. All it requires is for me to be aware when someone is in need of encouragement.
Too often Christians are only known for what they are against. We are known for calling out sins in the culture, and lifestyles that we disagree with. I’m not saying we shouldn’t call out sin when we see sin, but that should not be our only purpose. Sometimes we are so busy being police to the world that we lose sight of healing the sick and hurt. Yes we need to acknowledge when there is sin, but if all we are doing is yelling at the darkness then we have missed so many crucial parts to being a Christian.
We need to build one another up. We need to speak encouragement in the lives of others. We need to let them know that they are loved and cared for. We need to let them know that they matter, and they really do matter. I confess that this doesn’t come so naturally to me. It’s easier for me to point out what needs to change, sin that needs to be dealt with, and problems that need to be fixed.
That’s the thing though. The reason why we rarely give out encouragement is because we don’t realize how important it is, and we get distracted with other things we have personally set as a higher priority. Maybe it’s time to do more than just scream into the darkness. Perhaps it is time to bring a little light and hope into the individual who is stuck in the darkness.
Perhaps you are reading this, and realize it is time for you to give encouragement to that brother or sister in Christ who has been discouraged in their faith. Maybe you know someone who is so beat down by that sin in their life, and they need someone to come beside them to provide a word of comfort and support. Maybe there is someone who doesn’t even know who Jesus is, and has been living in despair. Perhaps a simple word of care to that person could help them out of that despair.
Maybe you are someone in desperate need of encouragement, but no one around you seems to notice. I would urge you to go to friends and family you trust, and tell them how you are feeling. Sometimes people need to be reminded that there are others around them who need to be lifted up. My wife did this for me once when I was far too stubborn to do so myself. I was going through a difficult time of discouragement. She made a point to contact some of my closest friends, and tell them that I need to be uplifted with their words. Everyone needs encouragement. Don’t be ashamed to admit it.
Seriously folks our words have power. They can damage a life, and they can also build a life up. Encouragement is like a child with a cardboard box. It may seem insignificant to the person who is giving it, but it provides joy, happiness, and a sense of being loved by the one who receives it.