What do cars, clothes, dryers, factories, power grids, bonfires, light bulbs, backhoes, human beings, and arguments all have in common? They all run on fuel. Without it, they die.
As fossil and other fuels power most everything we use in our daily lives, and food fuels our body, and harsh words fuel an argument, so encouragement fuels our soul. Without the fuel of encouragement from the Word of God and the people of God, our growth in the grace of God will wither rather than flourish as God intends.
As a teacher, I see this play out every day at school. When I encounter a student who shrinks in the face of a difficult task, I only have to offer words of encouragement to see their confidence grow. A hearty, “I know this is tough, but you can do it. Here, I’ll help you,” is the fuel they need to move forward in the task with bolstered confidence and assurance.
The Author of Encouragement
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Indeed, encouragement is fuel for the soul.
God is the author of encouragement, and His word is its purveyor. How many times do we try to go it alone in life without accessing the comfort and guidance of God’s gracious, accessible, abundant, authoritative, trustworthy, dependable, soul-fueling Word? Every Christian needs daily time in the Word of God and to do life with fellow Christians in the local church. Without daily time in the Word and fellowship with other believers, we will run on our own sufficiency rather than on the fuel of encouragement God has so richly provided.
Five Ways God Provides the Fuel of Encouragement
- The Comfort of His Presence
We cannot sustain the awareness of God’s nearness and companionship without the encouragement of scripture. God’s word is where we are fueled with the encouragement He has provided.
- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9).
- “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7).
- “The Lord God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17).
- “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
- “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
- His Protection, Strength, and Assurance in Trial
“In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). If you are in the world, you will have trials in your life. Count on it. Sorry to be so grim, but the truth remains. God’s Word is where we are fueled with the encouragement of His protection, strength, and assurance in troubling times.
- “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
- “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped.” (Psalm 28:7).
- “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will not either slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.” (Psalm 121:1-8).
- “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Proverbs 30:5).
- “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
- His Love
Jonathan Edwards said, “There is such love and such grace in the heart of God [that] if you understood the length and breadth and height and depth of it, you would never be discouraged.” God’s Word is where we are fueled with the encouragement of His love for His people.
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
- “But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
- “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).
- “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8).
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
- His Provision
If we are in Christ, we have no lack. If God calls us to something, He will provide us with everything we need to accomplish it. God’s Word is where we are fueled with the encouragement of His provision.
- “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
- “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).
- “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
- “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
- “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
- The Preemptive Assurance of What to Expect Before He Returns
In His benevolence, God has given us some preemptive assurance of what we can expect as followers of Christ— so when the times seem strange, we are not taken by surprise. God’s Word is where we are fueled with assurance while we wait for His return.
- “But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” (John 16:4).
- “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12).
- “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.“ (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
- “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
- “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:10-14).
Rather than operating on our own sufficiency and running out of gas, we need to fill up daily- sometimes several times a day with the reading of the inerrant, infallible, inspired, and sufficient Word of God.