With all the negativity out there, never lose your ability to be an encouragement to others. It is very hard to pour out from an empty tank. Our inability to encourage may come from the emptiness we face in our own lives.
It is also hard to encourage in a culture of outrage. There are so many things to be mad about (and that we are expected to be mad about) that it can be hard to look at the positive. The courageous thing to do is en-courage others even when things seem discouraging.
The truth of the matter is, there are still many positive things going on out there if we have eyes to see it.
Paul wrote four of his letters from prison…a Roman prison. That was one of the last places on earth you would ever want to find yourself. And yet he found it within him to encourage those he wrote to with verses like,
“3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Phil 1:3-6
“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Phil 1:18-21
Paul had every right to be bitter…to be consumed by critique of the injustice that had come his way. But instead of choosing to be consumed by that he choose to encourage those he care about the most.
If you feel empty, take some time with God. Slow down. Rest. Spend time in quiet…listening for God’s voice above the noise. God can remind you that He alone is enough. God can encourage you in spite of your difficult circumstances. God can enlarge our hearts to make room for both trouble and the courage to encourage.
Last, try. Just try…and what you will find is that the more you offer encouragement to others (even when you don’t feel like it) the better you will feel about it. The reward of a smile in return…to see someone else’s spirit uplifted…all reminders that a simple word of encouragement can go a long way.