Encouragement is a common emotion needed by human beings to progress well in the area of work, education, sports, relationships, and religion. No one can, indeed, discredit the importance of the role that encouragement would play in the various aspects of our lives, and that includes Christian encouragement. As we examine the Scriptures we would come to the knowledge that the Word of God contains many passages both in the Old and New Testaments which talk about the idea of encouragement.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; he shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
In the light of the above-mentioned passages, we can infer that God puts a lot of emphasis on the biblical concept of spiritual encouragement in His Word because He desires His children to understand that encouragement in the body of Christ is necessary to our spiritual journey with God. In fact, our Lord Jesus forewarned His followers that they would encounter troubles and tribulations for standing firm in their faith, but He encouraged them by declaring that He had overcome the world (John 15:18-21; 16:33). What a comforting word of assurance and encouragement from our Lord Jesus!
Truly, all of us would encounter difficult periods at certain points of our lives when we feel so overwhelmed by the challenging circumstances, which may cause us to be shaken in our faith. The events of our everyday lives can cause us to feel discouraged. We may experience feelings of fatigue, frustration, fear and failure in our day-to-day living, and these negative emotions when they are left unchecked for a prolonged period of time would eventually cause members of the Lord’s church to become distracted and discouraged. In a very real sense, discouragement is a common human experience and living the life of a Christian without encouragement would be a difficult and burdensome journey.
Nevertheless, thanks be to God for He has provided us with His Word and we also enjoy the privilege as His children to come before His majestic throne in prayer, whereby we can cast our cares, burdens, worries, anxieties, and disappointments on Him, knowing that He cares for us and believing that He will help us overcome the low points of our lives (1 Peter 5:7). Besides accessing spiritual encouragement from the Bible and through prayer, God also calls us to encourage one another on a regular basis within the church because He understands that living a faithful Christian life is not going to be a bed of roses.
Therefore, as members of God’s family in Jurong, let us come to the realisation that encouragement was, and is, and will continue to be an essential way of extending support to each other within the body of Christ, the church. Just as a close-knitted physical family devotes time, effort and energy to build the relationship bonds amongst family members, a supportive spiritual family is one that would be concerned about the well-being of one another on a regular basis, rather than only just on Sundays.
The Care Group Ministry is currently into its second month, and this is a congregational initiative that has been established with the purpose of fostering stronger and deeper relationship bonds amongst individual members of the family of God at Jurong. Having mentioned this, the overall progress and success of the Care Group Ministry really depends on the participation and involvement of individual Christians. Although this ministry is in its infancy stage, it is through our regular participation and active involvement that would enable us to develop closer relationship ties with one another, and able to lend a listening ear or a helping hand to a brother or sister in the church during times of need. In essence, we need the mutual support and encouragement of brethren during both good times and during times when we encounter difficulties, struggles and disappointments in our daily walk with God (Galatians 6:2).