Giving thanks for the gift of encouragement

At the end of every church service, our pastor references a particular scripture that sticks with me from Sunday to Sunday.

It bears repetition.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The giving-thanks part, especially this week feeding into the Thanksgiving holiday, comes easily to me.

And that’s in spite of all the madness and sadness and challenges and changes that this year has brought and continues to bring for so many people, here close to home and everywhere for that matter.

This past week alone included two visits to funeral homes to pay respects for two people tragically no longer with us.

It can be hard to put your heart on the gratitude setting in the midst of people beginning that very long grieving journey.

And yet, we are to give thanks in all circumstances, trusting, believing, persevering.

One of the things I am most thankful for — and not just at Thanksgiving time but year-round — is encouragement — a daily gift I am the beneficiary of without ever having to really enact a search of any sort. No posse necessary.

Encouragement just shows up, and I welcome it, appreciate it greatly.

It may come in the form of a phone call.

It may come in the form of a note or card from someone I know or someone I don’t.

It may come in the form of a casual conversation.

Or it presents itself in a Bible verse or daily devotional, the latter of which can really hit home and be so applicable, so fitting, it seems as if it’s been written exclusively for my particular situation.

Words of encouragement can never be taken too lightly.

Better Half and I are each other’s encouragers and reassurers — often telling each other, “Not to worry — everything’s going to be OK.” The response to that is, “OK, keep telling me that.”

The two of us have become the self-ordained church sign volunteers, putting up messages that traffic along state Route 43 would have occasion to see and maybe feel encouraged in the process.

We have our your-turn, my-turn weeks, meaning each of us is responsible for coming up with something to put on the sign.

I can’t say we’ve done anything terribly clever like some sign messages I’ve read, including, “God should be our steering wheel, not our spare tire” or “Tomorrow’s forecast — God reigns and the Son shines!”

Or how about “The best vitamin for a believer is B1” or “Jesus said ‘I’ll be back’ way before Arnold did.”

Our messages probably aren’t in contention for best sign message accolades, but we try, and sometimes we even manage to hear a car honk-honk when we’re done.

This week it was my turn and admittedly, it’s a message that’s anything but wildly original or imaginative.

“Thank you, God, for our many blessings!”

I feel thankful, blessed and grateful for so many things, and that includes the gift of encouragement.

Here’s hoping that present is part of your Thanksgiving celebration this week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)


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