When I reflect on the history of African Americans, I see struggle and victory. I see people who understand suffering and push forward in spite of because they had a strong sense of hope that things would get better. Their message was always “Don’t Give Up, Hold On.”
I remember the slaves that were beaten and sold away from their families. The black men who were called “boys”…the humans that were treated like animals simply because of the color of their skin. I remember the women walking the streets in modest skirts with their chests pressed to brick walls because of the fire hoses on their backs or the guard dogs nipping at their heals. I remember the crass words spoken to the young students who integrated the high school in Little Rock, the people who marched, the whites and blacks who took Freedom Rides and sat down to integrate service facilities because enough was enough. In a world that appeared hopeless, I imagine they encouraged themselves and each other.
There are many days when I am faced with the need to encourage myself in the Lord. There are several ways I do so:
1. I encourage myself with the truth found in God’s Word. I meditate on scriptures like:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity; let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Gal. 5:9-10).”
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).”
2. I encourage myself by offering God songs of praise and worship.
3. I encourage myself by remembering what God has done.
I start by reflecting on all the ways he fulfills his promises throughout the Word and how he delivered his chosen people and did not break covenant with them. I stand on the truths of God’s promises to his chosen people and his beloved children:
God: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut 31:6).”
Jesus: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20b).”
Then I remember all the ways God has delivered African Americans from oppression. I read and reflect on their stories, documentaries, speeches, and music which strengthen me. If they could hold on, encourage themselves, and press forward, then I certainly can too.
Finally, I remember the ways God has delivered me and my immediate family. I reflect on the lives of my mother, aunts, grandparents and other mentors, teachers, and influencers who stood on their faith with the hope of seeing the goodness of the Lord. I think of all the ways God has continuously expressed his love and favor to me.
4. I encourage myself by keeping an encouragement journal. I love words and I’ve been blessed in recent years to have people who take the time and write “Thank You” notes or cards to communicate their appreciation for something I said or did. It’s the small things that count. When I go back and read some of those cards from my journal, I am reminded that God is ever present with me and He is ever present with us.
How do you encourage yourself?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2013