The more I learn of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, the more my amazement grows. Could I turn back the clock, I’d turn in my undergrad Sociology degree for one in American History.
CRISIS CRIES OUT FOR ENCOURAGEMENT -- We are indeed in a national crisis, but it pales in comparison to what was ripping our country apart 160 years ago. Today we sense a pulling together, a “we’ll get through this together” spirit. Then, our young nation’s fabric unraveled wildly beyond control by a 4-year war on ourselves. Investigate any of the accounts of the human carnage; you’ll quickly be overcome.
As Lincoln was elected for his first time (1860) and sworn into office, a Southern block of states immediately seceded. Lincoln’s passion was to preserve the union, and was required to use force. Best guesses predicted a short war. Yet the pundits were horribly wrong. And months and years of brutal warring dragged on, Lincoln himself felt the full weight his country’s agony.
As he approached the prospect of a 2nd term, millions of Americans on both sides of the war hated him vehemently. Colleagues noted that “the president was growing feeble, with a hand that trembled” as never seen before (Edward Achorn, Every Drop of Blood—The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln). “Longtime associates were shocked in the change of his appearance,” a congressman noted. Another friend who had known Lincoln as “hearty, blithesome, genial, and wiry” in 1850 found him in 1865 a “stooping figure, dull eyes, care-worn face, and languid frame.”
Read of Lincoln’s life as our nation’s leader, and you soon realize how desperately he needed encouragement. Why he would quickly detour from pressing business to spend precious minutes recounting detailed, long, humorous stories and anecdotes. Many in his own cabinet loathed his storytelling. Yet his burdened life, under the unrelenting responsibility of leadership, longed for a good laugh any time it could be found.
PERSONAL ENCOURAGEMENT – It is so critical to our soul’s health and well-being.
"Encouragement" is a word often found in our Bibles. Hebrews 10:25 urges a daily dose exchanged between those who follow Jesus. Our English word “encourage” has French origins, meaning “to do that which makes someone’s heart stronger.” That’s what we need. Moments when we intentionally reach out to strengthen one another’s insides.
From where are you drawing encouragement these uncertain days? Pamela and I are finding it in these places:
- The assurance of a Father God who loves, provides and shepherds our days.
- The joy of contacting our grown (married) kids and our grandkids. One special delight is that they are calling “Nona” (Pamela) to play games over a video call (to Texas or Colorado), or have her read stories before they head to bed. We met two days later, and strengthened each other’s faith for about an hour. I needed to see him, and he needed to see me. It was great.
- The joy of our Connect Group. John and Becky, Jon and Colleen, Paul and Linda, Kevin and Kathy, Diane and Marty, Craig and Julie…they’re the best.
- The warm support of the Christ Community Church body. Again, one of the best local churches on the planet
- The joy of picking up our phones and calling fellow believers both locally and around the country. I had the most wonderful conversation with Terry and Marcia DeZonia last week, followed by some time with Andy Kvernen…and even a call with Dan McCarney
- The blessing of music. How well we have been served by Chris and Lauren Akers during these surprising weeks.
Interestingly, Proverbs 23:15 reminds of what encourages a mom and dad. My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed. Kids…seek to be humbly wise. You will lift your parents’ heart!
Paul reminds fellow Christians believers in ancient Rome (who had their own set of huge challenges) that our God is a God of encouragement. Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus.
So...make the extra effort to encourage someone – perhaps a whole bunch of someones – each day. Let’s keep each other healthy and strong, from the inside out, during these tough days. God himself will be in each effort we make to strengthen one another's hearts.