Our world cries out for purpose and hope. The need for an encourager to arise amid a desperate situation is not new. In Judges 4, we meet Deborah, a woman whom God used to perform that task for the nation of Israel.
Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. (Judges 4:4-5 NIV)
Deborah’s passion for God made her available to Him, and accessible to the people of Israel. According to Deborah’s own words, “Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7).
Deborah’s obedience infused with the power of God’s Spirit enabled her to lead the Israelites out of bondage. Although God may not call all of us to a position of national leadership, He does exhort each of us to take new life to our own villages.
This is not as difficult as you may think. Consider Merriam Webster’s definition of village: “A settlement usually larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town.” Now consider your circle of influence. In most villages, a large country house is at the center. Consider yourself that country house and realize God is not asking you to encourage the whole world. Just your part of it.
I love how Deborah used the word arose to describe her response to the call of God (Judges 5:7). It’s the same word used in Isaiah 60:21: ”Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” The Hebrew word for arose can mean “build, carry out, confirm, endure, establish, fulfill, raise up, restore, support.”
Deborah rose up, and in so doing she “raised up, established, restored, and supported” the people in her village. That is the essence of biblical encouragement. God kept many of His promises to Israel through the rising up of Deborah. She was God’s promise keeper. And that is what God calls each of us to do. He wants us to look around our villages, see the needs and rise up – not in our own strength, not with random acts of kindness – but with purposeful action, in His name, with confidence in His promises, trusting Him to accomplish His work of salvation and sanctification.
God’s Word: A Road Map
God doesn’t call us to the practice of encouragement and then leave us on our own. Scripture creates a road map for helping turn the hearts of others toward Jesus through biblical encouragement. When we turn to scripture, we enter the presence of God. And that is where we learn to face the life He has for us. We cheat our fellow believers if we neglect God’s word, for how can we minister in the name of Jesus if we don’t know the power of that name in our own hearts. His word and the power of His spirit equip and send us to come alongside another person as His promise keeper.
After the fatal car accident of our sixteen-year-old son Mark and his friend Kelly, the Lord reminded me He uses scripture to encourage us in our circumstances and to equip us to encourage others. I viewed every scripture offered to my family through cards, conversations, and sermons as a lifeline to God. Now I know His words set my heart free to serve Him by offering the treasures of encouragement to others as a means of not fixing the problem, but in helping turn hearts toward Jesus.
As we seek ways to rise up and offer life-giving encouragement to those in our villages, may our prayer be:
“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3)
Editor’s Note: This post is an adapted excerpt from Sharon Betters’ book, Treasures of Encouragement, Women Helping Women (New edition, 2021), written for individuals and small group study. A Leader’s Guide is also available. Visit treasuresofencouragement.org for more information and free companion resources.
About the Author:
Sharon W. Betters is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, pastor’s wife, and cofounder of MARKINC Ministries, where she is the Director of Resource Development. Sharon is the author of several books, including Treasures of Encouragement, Women Helping Women and Treasures in Darkness: A Grieving Mother Shares Her Heart, and coauthor with Susan Hunt of Aging with Grace: Flourishing in an Anti-Aging Culture. Sharon is the author of Daily Treasure, an online devotional.