Depression is a serious health problem in our society. The truth is most of our journey in this life is spent fighting against depression or implementing measures to overcome it. Death, a bad relationship, rejection, bullying, disappointments, and low self-esteem can lead to a dangerous, lethal place if we cannot find a place of encouragement. All of us need to be encouraged. In Acts 11:27, we witness the church in Jerusalem at a discouraging point in their ministry to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Stephen had been stoned, and people were in fear of their lives. One group of Christians left the area and began spreading the gospel in far reaches of the countryside.
People came to believe, and when this news reached Jerusalem, the church sent out Barnabas to the new Christians in Antioch. He encouraged them in their faith: “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord,” Acts 11:27. Although happiness and excitement encouraged the people in Jerusalem, they knew that the new Christians would be faced with the spirit of discouragement.
Sometimes we can be on a high, and turn around and face a devastating low that has the strong potential of shaking our faith. Thank God for Barnabus, a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. It is the Barnabus types that keep us encouraged.
They keep reminding us through the Holy Spirit of our faith and how are faith gives us joy and the power to overcome negative circumstances—to rise above and to heal our hurts and to find joy even in the midst of sadness and defeat. They are mothers in the church; they are good spouses; and they are people that believe in our dreams and help us to accomplish them. They are sent by the Lord with the sole purpose to encourage us. We have to know that if the Lord is sending Barnabus, the devil is sending someone on his team with the purpose of discouraging us, to weaken our faith, and to get us feeling dumpy and depressed. We cannot allow the spirit of discouragement to win. We have to be encouraged. My teen-aged daughter, Elizabeth, participated in a dance contest with other fantastic dancers. She saw the level of talent and she felt so discouraged about her own ability to dance. I reminded her that she couldn’t live her life measuring her gifts and talents against other people. I urged her to continue to nurture and appreciate the gifts and talents God has given her, and she felt encouraged. Then, when one of the older dancers danced to her song, I knew she felt discouraged. But there is only so much encouraging I could do as her mother. She had to encourage herself, and she did through every dance move.
Sometimes we have to be our own Barnabus. We have to encourage our own faith. After the contest, she was so grateful to have been a part of the program and to be among the ranks of some of the best youth dancers in Nashville. Sometimes we have to encourage ourselves. We have to remember that God does not want us to live in the spirit of discouragement. He wants us to be encouraged. Be encouraged!