The Weekly Epistle 5/3/23

Hi Living Hope,

John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach, would tell his players who scored a basket to smile, nod, or give a thumbs up to the player who gave them a good pass. “What if he’s not looking?” asked one of the players. Wooden would reply, “I guarantee he’ll look.” 

Everyone values encouragement! Everyone looks for it. All of us could use some positive reinforcement. Actually, lots of it! Mark Twain said he could live for two months on a good compliment. Well, he is a better man than I am. 

There is a true story of David in 1 Samuel 23 when Saul was looking to get rid of him. Saul was relentless. David was exhausted. Saul was determined to take David’s life. David was afraid. 

What did David need? Some positive reinforcement and encouragement. We are told that Jonathan went to David at Horesh and “helped him find strength in the Lord” (1 Samuel 23:16). Helped him find strength in the Lord. How can I help someone else find strength in the Lord? Encouragement is more than just saying, “good job” (though that would go a long way). It provides strength to continue. 

Jonathan then says to David, “Don’t be afraid. My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel” (1 Samuel 23:17). This reminder of the truth put David back on his feet again. What is at stake if encouragement is missing? The absence of truth. A lack of strength to continue on our journey. 

David knew God. David knew God had anointed him as the next king, in due time. Yet fear was winning. When fear takes hold of us, truth isn’t always easy to see. Jonathan’s simple reminder of God’s concern and promise was exactly what David needed. It helped him find strength in the Lord. 

Interestingly, in a scene shortly after this one in David’s life, he again hit a low time. You can read about it in 1 Samuel chapter 30. David is approaching the city when he looked in the distance and saw that the place where he and his men had been living for the past year and a half, was burned to the ground. Even worse than the physical destruction was the fact that all the women and children had been taken away as captives. It says that David wept until he had no more strength. It then says, “But David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). 

This time, no Jonathan. No one to help him find strength in the Lord. But David was able to draw upon God’s strength without the help of anyone else. I do wonder, “what if Jonathan wasn’t there to help him the first time?” Did the help of Jonathan carry him through the second time when he was down? Is encouragement that powerful that there is a lingering effect? 

Church, encourage others! Spread it around generously. Catch someone doing something positive and give reinforcement. 
Blessings, Pastor Brian