Last night I was struggling with some things that are going on at home that have huge implications for my family, especially my little girl. I have really tried to keep a level head to help keep her anxiety at bay, but I really needed some time and space to process all that’s going on. So last night I left the kids home with my mom while I went to church, and afterward I just spent some time alone praying over everything. At least I was trying to pray over everything. It is one of those situations where I honestly don’t know how to pray.
Since we have absolutely the most amazing pastoral staff at our church, I sent a text message to our Worship Pastor and asked him to pray with and for us about it all. He stopped and prayed immediately and then responded to tell me he was praying God’s peace to cover the situation and be everyone’s compass. He said, “God is way bigger than your fears and stress. Be encouraged!” Besides being completely blessed by the fact that he prayed and responded immediately, God really spoke to me through two words in that reply. “Be Encouraged!”.
Immediately I began thinking of all the scriptures where Jesus says “Take heart” or “Be of good cheer” or “Take courage”. There are a couple of translations that actually say “Be encouraged”. What I heard God saying to me loud and clear is that it is my choice to be encouraged. I can hang on to the worry and fear or I can choose to be encouraged. No one can force me to let go of my worry and anxiety. No one can force me to “be encouraged”. Encouragement and subsequently peace are just like the gift of salvation. God offers it but we have to accept it for ourselves. He doesn’t force it on us.
One scripture I have held onto tightly during my journey as a foster parent is John 16:33. In the NIV it says: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”