There are lots of topics to reflect upon in today’s readings. “Sermon on the Mount” reminds me of all the cool things that happen on mountains in the Bible. “Counting our Blessings” was another idea, as “blessed” gets mentioned often today. However, I’m going to focus on “encouragement”.
Some form of the word “encourage” was mentioned ten times in today’s first reading. That repetition points to its importance, of course. We’re told that God encourages us a lot, including during every affliction. And we are given an abundance or overflow of encouragement, so we can have encouragement to spare, to share with others. We’re all going to suffer and have afflictions at some point, and who better to encourage us, than our God and our Creator?
Encouragement is natural to most people. Parents often lavish this upon their children. Sports fans do this in stadiums and arenas around the globe. We encourage complete strangers as we watch them on the television or computer screen. The unstated goal of the encouragement is to help guide someone to success, and spur them on strongly.
Success Through Prayer
In my opinion, God doesn’t really care about a marathon completion time, a golf shot, a soccer goal, or the results of a bicycle race. So what is God encouraging me for? I’m not under heavy affliction right now, so does he not offer encouragement? Actually, He wants me, and all of us, to achieve the ultimate success by joining him in Heaven. That is better than a hat trick in the World Cup final.
How does he encourage us? I doubt he is on a couch in Heaven, cheering for us to figure things out on our own. Instead, He will answer our prayers to help us overcome obstacles and afflictions, and join him in Heaven. We need to ask for that encouragement to achieve the success of Heaven through prayer. We know that it’s a narrow road, or a narrow gate to get to Heaven. We will suffer along the way, that much we know. But with God with us, cheering us on, who can be against us?
Today, let’s pray for His will to be done in the most critical aspect of our life, and see what success that can bring. Pray for help in getting to Heaven, by entering through the narrow gate, which not all pass through. Perhaps we can get a nudge from God to get us on course, to get our bearings straight, or to get the proper GPS coordinates to start. Full success in reaching Heaven hopefully won’t be achieved today or tomorrow (we want to keep living!), but remember that all prayers are answered somehow, some day and some way. We won’t know the real answer until our final day here. When the whistle blows at the end of the game, we want to be on God’s field, with our arms raised in victory, with millions of angels roaring with approval, rather than in the parking lot, with our heads hung in despair for all eternity.