Are you an encourager or a discourager?

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
Reading Scripture on encouragement today helped to strengthen my resolve to be an encourager to all I meet (when possible, of course). We are encouraged to be encouragers of others. I know there are times when the situation or the personality may not lend to speaking words of comfort, help, and strength, but as often as we can, let’s try to put that into practice. It helps those to whom we are speaking, and it helps us. Being positive, uplifting, and pleasant makes even nearly unbearable situations appear to be better until we can get our grip, discover our resources, and put a plan into place to help in the moment and in the future.

As far back as the Book of Deuteronomy, encouragement is taught in Scripture. The people were asked or commanded to encourage the new leader, Joshua, as he started on his important journey. (Deuteronomy 1:38) A few verses over in Deuteronomy 3:28, we read again where the people are plainly told to encourage Joshua, and help to strengthen him, for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shall see.

In 2 Samuel 11:25, we read again verses about the importance of encouragement. David said in last part of Verse 25, “…Make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it, and encourage thou him.”

Have you ever faced a week or two that seemingly taxed almost all your strength? Perhaps someone you loved more than you love your own self is facing terrible odds, their health is failing, people misunderstand, and speak unknowingly, several plans are presented, and with the help of God and a few close friends and family members, major decisions must be made. Naysayers come and taunt you with advice, suggestions, and their own plans. If you need anything at a time like this, you need encouragement. Perhaps a friend or a family member will send you an older quote, a song to listen to, or a Bible verse on which to nail your flag to the mast.

The old adage, “When it rains, it pours,” from the old Morton saltboxes, seems to be holding true. Our family has had its share of pain and sorrow. My husband, Ted, was diagnosed suddenly with cancer of the esophagus and stomach, and surgery did not seem to be an option. We honestly had no clue until he choked in a restaurant. We embarked on a severe protocol of chemotherapy/radiation and a clinical trial in an attempt to stop this monster. My brother in Florida was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer and my son in law mangled his leg something terrible in a skiing accident in Colorado, all in a short span of time. Jeff underwent three major surgeries and has at least a full year of recovery before he can begin to attempt his normal schedule. And, my sister’s husband in Atlanta, underwent surgery on his knee.

I thank God for encouragement from friends. Every telephone call, email, note, text message, and visit are just what the doctor ordered to give us stability, assurance, and hope. Please, may I re-state here something we all know, but fail to act on? When someone we know or love gets some really devastating news, let’s not take the easy way out. Because we are not really certain of what to say, we say nothing. We assume they know that we are praying for them, their relative, their need, and their hurting heart. But, just maybe, we need to put some feet on those good thoughts and pick up the phone and call, send a note, bake a cake, or prepare a casserole, or simply say, “I am here if you need me for anything at all.”

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother (or sister) is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) How true this verse is. In times of trouble, pain, and fear, we need our friends more than ever.

Of all the verses I have found to boost my own heart these past few days, I like 1 Samuel 30:6 best, where it was said of David, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” I find in the darkness of night, or in the early morning hours, while trying to catch a quick nap, driving to yet another appointment, or trying to come up with tasty food, I find peace in encouraging myself in the Lord, my God. I do not believe He has brought us this far to leave us now. He knows what He is doing in all of our lives and I pray simply for strength and wisdom for this battle. I do ask that our readers join me in this endeavor. Our Anchor holds, and it is strengthened by the encouragement we have received.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or

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