When a person is baptized in Christ, it’s a life-changing event. The Bible tells us that baptism is the outward sign that causes an inward change and indelible mark upon our souls. We become children of God. By such, we are given the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, otherwise known as Salvation. This is a gift freely given and a reward attained for us by Jesus Himself, when He suffered, died and rose again. Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee a person against suffering in life.
In fact, many people would say the opposite: that if you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, you will no doubt experience suffering. It would seem that Jesus acknowledged this when He said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) It might not seem that there is encouragement for Christians in these words, but there is.
Jesus makes it clear that anyone who wishes to be His disciples will have a cross to bear. As Christians, we understand this and are willing participants. Still, it doesn’t mean that life will always be a “walk in the park.” In fact, sometimes, the burdens of a fallen world can weigh heavy upon even the most faithful and devout Christian. All people need encouragement at some time in their lives, including (and, perhaps, especially) Christians. Keeping a few things in mind can help a person who is struggling or stuck in a rut, perhaps feeling more burden than blessing. Why should we be encouraged about “taking up our cross?” — because Jesus has told us that it’s the pathway to Salvation!
Jesus gives encouragement for Christians by His example
When things feel like they’re going all wrong, it’s easy to feel abandoned. Even Jesus, in His final hour, cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani!” which means: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? The irony here is that a moment of great suffering in the life of Christ can bring encouragement to us in our darkest hours. If Jesus Himself felt “abandoned” for a moment, why should we ever be surprised if we feel the same? Those who are familiar with the Gospel of Matthew may recall that, right after this moment, Jesus then commends His spirit into the Father’s hands.
This shows us that, although He “felt” abandoned in His great hour of suffering, He “knew” He wasn’t. He trusts that God the Father is waiting to receive His spirit. When you’re having a rough time in life, remember this: God will never abandon you in a place He has promised to bring you through. Think of the Israelites. He did not abandon them in the desert. He promised to bring them through, and He did. So, too, has He promised every Christian that He will bring us through this life on earth until we come to rest eternally with Him in heaven. He will not forsake us.
We must be always mindful, however, that there is an enemy among us, who wants us to believe we have been abandoned by God. Jesus has warned us that this enemy is “the father of lies” and “a murderer.” Feelings of confusion, despair, hopelessness, doubt, etc., are fueled by the enemy. Instead, be encouraged by the promises of God! He keeps His promises and, no matter how heavy the cross you are bearing becomes, He will not forsake you!
God’s words are encouragement for Christians
In Joshua 1:9, God tells us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Throughout the Scriptures, we are reminded time and time again: Do not be afraid. Fear not. Have no fear. Be not afraid. Romans 8:31 reminds us that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” As Christians, we can find tremendous encouragement in these reminders.
We must also remember that the times in life that require strength and courage and fearlessness are not usually “easy” times. God repeats these phrases throughout His Word because He knows that we will often need to rely on them. Remember that God will never abandon us in a place He has promised to bring us through. We can be strong and courageous in the face of adversity!
You are not in this alone
One of the greatest sources of encouragement for Christians can be found in Matthew 11:28-30. Here, we find the beautiful words of Jesus. He says, “ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
How kind and gentle a Savior is He, that after having suffered so much for our sake, He yet invites us to bring the burdens of our lives to Him, so that He might bear them for us and give us rest? He invites us to take His yoke upon us. Imagine the yoke of a pair of oxen, which is placed upon them as they walk side by side to do heavy labor. Jesus tells us that He wants us to share His yoke, which is EASY, meaning it is easy to walk and do work while wearing this particular yoke.
There is encouragement for Christians in knowing that the yoke of Jesus is always ready and waiting to help us walk and labor. He wants to “pair” with us to give us rest. He wants to bear the weight of our burdens, for, He says, His burden “is light.” When life gets you down and you feel you can’t go on, think of these sources of encouragement. Do not let the enemy lead you astray. Jesus, Who healed the blind and the deaf, Who walked on water, change water into wine and rose from the dead, has promised that He will help you.
The enemy cannot do what Jesus does
Has the enemy done any of these things? If anyone is aware of how powerful Jesus is and how faithful God is to His promises, it’s the enemy! This is why he works so hard to convince us otherwise! Sometimes, we can’t even go day by day. We must go hour by hour or moment by moment. But, through it all, we are not alone. He will lead us through. We can be strong and courageous. He invites us to lay our burdens at His feet, and He means it!
Be encouraged, good Christians! For God is with you, wherever you go! And, don’t forget to share this good news with others.
Then, they too, can experience a love like no man hath known! Living out the ordinary days of your extraordinary life as a child of God, and doing that as joyfully as possible, is what it’s all about!