- Andrew Hess
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a particularly busy season in my life. Things were busy at work, and I was getting pretty busy in my free time. Predictably, I started to feel a little discouraged. The combination of everything I had going on was taking its toll. So I carved out some time for deeper rest. I spent some time praying for strength. I spent some time sleeping. And I spent some time with my encouragement file. A long time ago, a wise mentor encouraged me to start an encouragement file and to intentionally file away notes of encouragement and thank-yous. I initially thought the idea wouldn’t ever mean much to me, thinking I’d always had a good memory and was just saving things I’d remember regardless. But out of respect for my mentor, I started a file and began saving meaningful words of encouragement. He was right; I’ve saved many things in my encouragement file I'd have long forgotten without it. Flash forward 15 years, and I cannot fully express how precious some of these memories are to me today. I open my file and read encouragement from summers working at camp, encouragement from my first boss in my first job out of college and notes from teachers and professors along the way. I have literally saved hundreds of inspiring bits from several different seasons of my life. God has often used this file to remind me of the wonderful people and opportunities He’s brought into my life. Remembering back often brings me to tears, and it’s those tears that work to melt away these moments of exhaustion and discouragement. The Bible talks a lot about the importance of remembering. Throughout the Scriptures we see men and women told to remember important truths about who God is and what He wants us to do. But the Bible is much more than a list of rules and regulations. It contains in it many valuable truths and promises that God put there for our encouragement. The Apostle Peter even referred to them as God’s “precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4). One of the reasons I regularly read God’s Word is—much like my encouragement file—I find great inspiration there. I often copy down encouraging verses and passages and add those to my encouragement file. One of my favorite promises is found in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Many times I’ve come to God with needs and been lifted up by this reminder that God will meet all of my needs in Jesus. If you are prone to discouragement (and even if you aren’t), I would encourage you to start an encouragement file of your own. Be diligent to encourage the people in your life and treasure up the encouragement you receive. Fill your encouragement file with encouragement from others and encouragement from God. Encouragement is contagious. Those who give the most often receive the most. These days, I meticulously save emails, birthday cards, thank you notes and encouraging emails. Whatever difficulties come into my life, I am often strengthened remembering how God has carried me through difficulties in the past and eventually brought me many moments of sweet encouragement. My friends, store up encouragement and return to it often with tears and gratitude.