Friday, August 3, 2012

Do they know?

Think of the people that inspire you. Maybe they inspire you with their kindness or unselfishness. Maybe they did some small thing that made a difference for you. Perhaps you notice their untiring service or the way they spread joy wherever they go. Maybe you don't even know them very well or have much interaction with them, but are encouraged by their Christian example. Do they know? Do they know you thank God for them? Do they know you care?

I have been blessed with many inspirational friends and family in my life. Often I have thought to myself how much I appreciate and admire a certain friend or acquaintance, but keep it to myself. I'm either too busy or preoccupied to put any encouragement on paper or appreciation into action. At times my inner thoughts even go like this, "I should tell him/her sometime if I get a chance". So then I wait for there to be a good time and only hope I remember. But what if that time never comes?

Encouragement is wonderful. A word of appreciation can be like a rain shower for the desert. We seldom know the struggles and challenges others are going through and how welcome a kind word would be. The Bible speaks about the art of encouragement. In Isaiah 50:4 the prophet writes, "The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary". Another version says "The Almighty LORD will teach me what to say, so I will know how to encourage weary people." I have personally experienced the result of a word spoken in season. It is powerful. Uplifting.

There is a friend of mine in Africa. I just heard she is critically ill. Over the year I have known this woman she has been an inspiration of Christian love and unselfish service. When I had malaria she cooked me food, rubbed my back and look after me devotedly. Often I have thought of her kindness and sweet spirit with admiration. She works in a very challenging environment where discouragement, illness and burn-out are common, but I have missed many opportunities to encourage her with an email or text message. Now I am wishing I had taken the 5 minutes to email her every time I thought of it.

Some of the most haunting things in life are words you wished you would have said but didn't. Never again do I want to look back with regret. I want to take every opportunity I have to encourage and appreciate. A word, a card, a text, an email...whatever form it takes, it will make a difference.

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