How easily we offer encouragement to little ones as they try to master even simple skills as part of play. We do it automatically, repeatedly…
We allow for mistakes, bend rules to accommodate their level of understanding the game. Generously, we offer help, add laughter, and enjoy the time spent together. When little ones tire and can no longer function well, we pick them up and move to another activity, feed them, or head home for a nap. We pat those silky-haired heads, laying our hands on our children and grandchildren as the patriarchs of the Old Testament did. Genesis 49 records the blessing Jacob gave to each head of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Where do we lose this gracious blessing of encouragement? I ask this because so many children, by as early as upper elementary school age, find life crushing to the point of doing themselves harm. Their confusion, like that of this bear in our backyard in December, turns dark and savage.
Yet the Christian faith offers real hope in Christ, a hope that has sustained many in hardship, pain and anguish. Those who know the Savior, have more opportunities to encourage than we often realize. How do we start?
So what if you didn’t get Christmas cards sent out this year? Take a wintry day and email or write notes to brightens another’s day. Pick up the phone if that’s easier than writing, but actively declare the blessing another has been in your life. And tell them about the blessings of the Gospel.
Those who know Jesus have been declared holy; that’s our identity, even if not our current daily practice. The indicative or TRUTH is that we are now new creations, set apart, anointed, blessed and destined to reign with Christ. God has accomplished all of this, in Christ, for our benefit.
Taunts, threats from the enemy, come trying to undo us. Remember Goliath goading the Israelite army into paralyzing fear? To encourage his fighting sons, their father, Jesse of Bethlehem, sent bread. To those of us who are unable to fight the sin within, the Father of the Bread of Life sends the Bethlehem Babe. The Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament. One OT character, David, moves the people from cowards to champions. We can be confident and hopeful because our champion came as the Justifier.
Having no need – or ability, for that matter – to justify ourselves, we see differently. We have a right to rout the enemy because we have an advocate in Jesus the Righteous. May we live with that confidence in 2014 and pass on that blessing to others.