by Gail Rodgers
“I needed to hear that”, Kelly said with a catch in her voice. The layoff notice had come as a complete surprise. Anger and panic had welled up within her. Sue had listened to her vent. Then she had spoken quietly and gently reminded Kelly that God knew of this turn of events. He would direct her through the unknown path. He could be counted on to guide her. He would give her wisdom. Kelly’s heart was comforted and strengthened. She was encouraged to go on and her heart softened at the reminder of God’s care.
God’s Word alerts us that in difficult times our hearts can go astray. They can become hardened and turn away from God.
We all know that wondering of “Where is God?” when something significant does not go as we had hoped or planned and life seems to tumble around us.
We live in a world that acknowledges God less and less. Often the choices of others affect us in hard ways. Politics at work, relationships with those we care about, finances, even health issues. We can feel alone and our faith can feel slippery as we walk.
When clouds gather in our lives we can begin to allow unbelief into our hearts. It’s very subtle and slips in. We pray less and our Bible sits unopened more. When we don’t understand God, unbelief creeps in. It can harden our hearts to the point where we tune out God even when He speaks to us. We can find rebellion creeping up on us if we are not monitoring our hearts. Listen to God’s words to us…
“See to it brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13
God knows the tendency of our hearts toward unbelief. That’s why He counsels us in these matters. We need to be aware of keeping our hearts soft. God’s call to “Encourage one another daily…” helps build a reservoir within our own hearts ... it helps keep our hearts soft.
It is easy to be deceived into thinking God doesn’t have our best interest at heart, especially when things don’t go well. We need to guard our hearts against unbelief and rebellion and know that, in those tough places, He is there to guide us through and teach us.
When you feel unbelief slipping into your soul and find rebellion nibbling around the edges of your heart, seek out spiritual encouragement. Walk and talk with a friend and be honest in sharing your need of prayer. Do a Bible study on a topic that grabs at your heart. Choose to spend some time with God and cry out to him from the depths of your soul telling Him all the things in your heart. Choose to turn toward Him. God will encourage you even when people aren’t there to. Choose to draw near to Him and ask Him to help your unbelief.
When we receive encouragement in our soul from God, we are then in a position to give encouragement. You cannot offer something you don’t possess.
Then, when you hear despair in the lives of those around you or in the emails of those writing to you, you will be equipped to encourage them with words from Scripture, or a gentle reminder of God’s everlasting love even when the road ahead is obscured.
It’s an amazing circle. Daily speaking of God’s care will not only encourage others and bring comfort, strength and hope…it will also encourage you and help keep your own heart soft and your faith strong.
“He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Pay attention to God’s warning against unbelief. Our faith in Jesus is our most valued treasure. If you loose it there is nothing of true value left. Guard against an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. Turn to Him and ask Him to speak to you. Watch for those whose hearts are turning away and ask God to give you encouragement to share. It will build you up as you do.