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Most of us are starving for a little encouragement.

We’re walking around parched, prone to self-doubt and focused on what must be done.  Some of us are downright afraid.  Some of us have fallen into a pit of discouragement and feel totally alone.  Some of us are riding the mountain top of breakthrough and find that even good things bring stress and concern.

For years I’ve been in a serious battle for my health. I’m grateful that many continue to encourage me.  However, I often run into friends who say something like “I have been thinking of you, but I didn’t want to bother you.”  Or sometimes they say, “I know so many people are already encouraging you.”

I wonder why we think we should limit encouragement, or why we think our encouragement is inferior, too late or even unneeded.  People are made to be filled with courage…to be comforted, built up, and empowered by you.

I Thessalonians 15:11 says “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up…”

I cherish every face-to-face encounter, note card, email, text, post or even a like, love or follow on social media. They remind me I’m not alone and fill me with courage.

I’d like to share some of my favorite ways to both give and receive encouragement that are simple, inexpensive, really effective, and always arrive right on time.

  • It’s always a good time to send a note.
    I still love snail mail.  It speaks to me and says “I care.  I thought about you enough to buy a note card, think of something kind to say, write it down, and even spend a little more to put the stamp on the envelope.” It makes me feel special and cared for. A written word, no matter how small or short has great value. So go ahead and send a text, email or social media like.  It all lasts…it lingers…it can encourage multiple times.  If you add a scripture or a brief prayer – double points for you!
  • It’s always a good time to pray.
    Pray each time that a person comes to your mind and trust that you are depositing faith, hope and courage into your friend. You’ll notice I didn’t say it’s never a bad time to pray with the person you want to encourage.  A person who is under great stress may not be in a moment where they can really engage with you.  If face to face, ask permission, don’t make it too long, and be sensitive to the environment, timing and how the person is feeling. Your prayers really matter and are essential to building strength and hope into those who are in need.  Don’t discount the power of this gift to encourage.  Pray more often.
  • It’s always a good time to say I love you.
    People are drawn to those who can express an authentic concern and affection for them and their needs. People will be drawn to your genuine encouragement and expressions of love.  A thirsty man can spot water from a mile away. That same thirsty man can smell insincerity. So never lie or overstate your concern.  Keep it simple.  Touch them if appropriate.  Look them in the eye.  Follow their cues.
  • It’s always a good time to send a gift card.
    People love to eat (have to eat) and often in the midst of a difficult season, preparing a meal for your family can be a really big drain on limited strength or resources.  I find cards for restaurants or grocery stores to be especially beneficial. I also love the gift of home cooked meals, but they require a lot more coordination and energy for both parties. Cards allow me to meet the needs of my family as they come and on tough days that means I’m not in the kitchen at all. Double points for me!

So go ahead and act on your impulse.  You are made for this! You are an encourager and your love and concern for others is powerful. Don’t withhold. Don’t worry. Don’t delay. Someone right in front of you is starving for encouragement.

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