June 19th, 1865 is a day that is celebrated because it marked the end of slavery in the south. It did not mean however, that the struggle for equality, social justice, and treatment with dignity was over. As history attests with the Freedom March from Selma to Montgomery in March of 1965 (one hundred years later!) the battle is a long one.
We too have battles that go on as long as we are this side of heaven. Our proclamation of Jesus as Lord and Savior, attested to by our baptism, was an end to our slavery to sin, but that did not mean the battle to live a life without the effects of sin was over. As we grow in Christ, we will still battle those effects; either by the sins we commit in our moments of weakness or as a result of the sins of others. These can cause us anger at ourselves and others; depression because of the emotional toil of that sin; and can at times make us feel very alone.
Many years ago during our time in Chile, I was having a very rough week. It led to feeling a deep sense of disappointment and self-questioning. That morning as I sat on my desk alternating between sulking and whining, I opened a letter from the U.S. It was a very short letter written by a little girl. I said, "Hi, my name is _______. I am seven years old. I love to ride my bike and play outside. I am praying for you." Those words caused the dark cloud over my head to evaporate and renewed my energy and sense of purpose. It fueled me for several weeks. I was reminded of that letter because, in all honesty, I was recently wrestling with some negative emotions when in the course of eighteen hours, I was fed words of encouragement from three different sources. Those kind of words are like a floatation device given to us when we are drowning.
In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are told: [And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.] There is no way that the little girl could have known how much her letter meant to me. I doubt that those who gave me words that encouraged me knew how desperately I needed them in that moment. We can never minimize the power of an encouraging word. I exhort all of us to go forth today, and offer a positive word to those we know.
Have a blessed Friday.