“In all our distress and persecution we were encouraged…” 1 Thessalonians 3:7
When I (jcd) was thirteen, we adopted the most wonderful dog in the world. Penny, as we called him, was smart and obedient. He loved everybody, and everybody loved him. But when I went off to college and my parents moved, our family reluctantly decided to give Penny away to another family. After a while, Penny decided that my father wasn’t coming back. The dog began to grieve. In fact, he seemed to give up on life, and before long, arthritis and other problems left him paralyzed. When my father heard about
Penny’s sad state, he drove seven hundred miles to bring him home. He found our dog curled up in a little ball, unable to move. But Penny’s tiny stub of a tail thrashed wildly when he saw his master. Remarkably, with the love and attention my parents began to shower on him, Penny recovered. Within two weeks of returning home, he was running and jumping. He lived eleven more years without another sign of arthritis!
This story about our family dog reminds me that if even a mutt needs love and encouragement to stay alive, then so does every human being on the face of the earth. We are social beings, designed to depend on God and each other. Yet some of us are curled up in a pitiful little ball of discouragement. Every day we have the power to bring life by giving encouragement to others—or we can ignore their needs and think only of ourselves. The choice is ours.
Lord, open our eyes to others’ need for attention, affection, and encouragement. May we never withhold what is our duty and privilege to give. Amen.