With my kids finishing the school year, I've had to continually encourage them to finish strong. They've been going strong since August 1st and have even undergone a life change half way through in the form of a move.
Change is not easy for anyone, but I have felt particularly compassionate toward my three champions who have had to start over in the middle of a school year. New schools, new friends, new teachers, new home. And I think they've handled it all better than I have!
The "new" can be challenging to us all, and I'm starting to understand it's because we are learning to trust God. The old becomes comfortable and can seem easy to navigate because of its familiarity. The new is unknown territory that can make us wonder if we've made the right decisions. Or if we have what it takes. Sometimes we wonder if God understood that we liked the old, comfortably familiar place. (God does know that, by the way.)
When seasons change, we can be sure we will need someone to speak courage to our hearts. Someone that will help us look at the positive. Someone that will help us see that God is doing a new thing. He's growing us, pruning us, blessing us, protecting us, and equipping us through the change.
Courage means the ability to do something that frightens us, or strength when facing pain or grief. To encourage, then, is to give support, confidence, or hope to someone. We need to continually receive and give courage. It's such a wonderful feeling, isn't it? To have courage to do something you were intimidated by? Or to encourage a friend to?
Then a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His outer robe; for she had been saying to herself, “If I only touch His outer robe, I will be healed.” But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Take courage, daughter; your [personal trust and confident] faith [in Me] has made you well.” And at once the woman was [completely] healed. Matthew 9:20-22
This passage has always blessed me. This woman, after such long-suffering, had the courage to reach out and touch Jesus. Somehow she knew she would be well if she could touch even a tassel of His robe. And the fact that Jesus knew someone had touched Him specifically for healing! With crowds of people pressing against Him as He walked, He knew someone received from Him in that moment. In one account (Luke 8), it says Jesus asked who had touched Him, and she came forth "with fear and trembling" confessing she had been the one. She courageously came forward to claim her healing and proclaim He had healed her. His reaction? He said, "take courage; your faith made you well." And it was so.
Whatever is before you now, dear heart, have courage. Know that the Holy Spirit is alive in you and will help you. Remember the saints that have gone before you and courageously stood up to their giants. Remember Jesus is interceding for you and cheering you on. Remember that you have brothers and sisters in the faith that are with you. Let your heart grab hold of a juicy piece of courage and go forward, believing that on the other side will be your healing…your victory.
Jesus, encourage our hearts to believe…to run the race…to dream…to love. And when we grow weary, rally the troops and send someone to remind us who we are and to have courage to step out in faith. To reach for You. To believe our healing and our victory are within arm's length. To believe You will be there when we reach for You, and You will look in our eyes and say, "Take courage, daughter."
Author: Kerri Barfield