"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

Translate Hester's Blog

Friday, October 12, 2012


Acts 14:21-22, "They (Paul and Barnabas) preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said."

This past week has been one of discouragement.  Hear me out, this is not a pity party.   This is just how life is sometimes despite my consistent feed of Scripture and oneness with the Lord.  

I've been discouraged by my lack in so many areas of writing and ministry.  People who once supported me have withdrawn.  Questions in my mind loom over my spiritual gifts.  

I'm frustrated with my flesh that struggles to love difficult people in my life.  I'm overwhelmed with a to-do list that stands higher than my laundry.  I'm discouraged by my physical limitations and sheer exhaustion that settles in close to dinner time each night.  My mental list of inadequacies goes on . . .

This discouragement comes when I compare myself to others, when I forget to extend myself some grace and when I am overwhelmed by too many trains on the track. Recognizing the enemy's attempt to keep me in the pit requires a personal choice for me to rise above with the strength God provides.

When I feel like I hit bottom the Lord tenderly reminds me to press into Him more while placing my confidence in Him alone and not my circumstances.  His Word comforts me and His Spirit embraces my wearisome heart.  

God also uses others believers to lift us up when our hearts are heavy.  In the New Testament we read the example of Barnabas.  Barnabas who?  Interesting name, until we learn what it means.

The name 'Barnabas' means, son of exhortation, encouragement, or consolation.  In the passage found in Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas strengthen the disciples and encourage them to remain true to the faith. 

Just prior to this, Paul was stoned, yet got up and went back into the city.  The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch.  Lystra and Iconium were the very cities where Jews won the crowd over and had Paul stoned.  These two missionaries were persecuted.  Why would they want to go back?  

A quick look at a map also reveals they could have even taken a shorter route back to Antioch, but no, they were determined and devoted to return to these cities to exhort the new followers of Christ.  Encouraging their brothers gained priority despite their prior stoning.  They pressed on in the midst of the reality of their own difficulty.  

Paul and Barnabas' encouragement reveals its necessity for many reasons:
  • Encouragement inspires us to persevere in our faith. 
  • Encouragement strengthens our hearts and is an expression of love. 
  • Encouragement communicates we care about the body of Christ. 
When I felt the corners of my eyes moisten I tried to fight back, not wanting to give in to the realness of my hurt and frailties.  Right about this time God used fellow sisters to spur me on.  Last week God brought five random people to me via email, Facebook, a phone call and one-on-one.  Each of them spoke such blessing over me.  

God used these ladies to minister to me in a tangible way.  Their words helped me stay focused, remember Who I serve and remain steadfast in God's call over my life.  Their encouragement was like water in a parched desert.

None of us are exempt from discouragement.  It comes in various forms and has the potential to stifle the most joyful person.
  • Is your marriage floundering?
  • Does your relationship with your children need mending?
  • Is your job draining you?
  • Are you doubting God's love for you?
  • Is there tension in your family?
  • Are you facing tragedy?
  • Are financial pressures squeezing like a vice?
Those who take a firm stand in their faith are a sure target for enemy archery.  Even those who serve in ministry experience hard hits.  The closer believers are to impacting the Kingdom and reflecting the glory of God, the enemy comes in to evict us from our confidence, courage and conviction.  The Deceiver gains pleasure from our doubts, fear and timidity.

Perhaps it is time for us to be more purposeful in our encouragement to others. We are all strapped for time but it is critical to be intentional to exhort and edify those in need.  As the early church shows us, we too, can strengthen and encourage others in the faith.  May we strive to be like Barnabas to those around us.

Heart Work:
Do you know someone with the above difficulties mentioned?  Contact this person and express your love to them. 

Try to be consistently aware of those needing encouragement.  

Encouragement comes in many forms. What are some practical ways you can edify others?  (Email, card, phone call, chat over coffee, prayer . . . what else?)

Heart Exam:
What is your response when you hear of someone hurting and in need of encouragement?  Do you want to reach out or do you want to hide in the shadows and pretend you don't know of their need? 

What can you do to be more like Barnabas to those around you?  Specifically your husband, children, parents, close friends, neighbors, unbelievers . . . be specific.

How are you feeling discouraged?  Your greatest source of encouragement comes from God and His Word.  

Heart Transforming Word:
Acts 20:1-2  "When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people."

Hebrews 3:13  "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."

Hebrews 10:25 "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

2 Thessalonians 2:17  "May our Lord Jesus Christ encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word."

1 Thessalonians 3:2  "We sent Timothy, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith."

1 Peter 5:12  "I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.  Stand fast in it."

Galatians 6:1 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Colossians 2:2  "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding."

Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen.  Edited 2012.  All rights reserved.


  1. Thank YOU for being a "Barnabas" today, Hester! And I needed it. There are so many days that I want to crawl in a hole because it seems everybody is further along and knows more and is better connected and has more opportunities...

    Hang in there, sister. I still say you're on the verge of something significant for the kingdom.

    Love you,

    1. Oh Susan,

      Thank you! Is it selfish to say that is is helpful to know that you understand too? (while not wishing difficulty on you). I think the enemy also likes us to think we are alone in our feelings - like everyone else around us has it all figured out.

      Thank you for your encouragement regarding the work God has put in my heart.
      Love you back sister,
      Hester, :)

    2. It IS good to know that we're not alone, Hester, so I'm happily (sort of) right there in the boat with you! We're not adrift on that sea alone because HE is setting the sails and knows exactly what He's doing!

      (You have no idea how many times I have to remind myself of that. No wait, you probably DO!)

      Edie has a good guest post today about not quitting -->

      PRESS ON!

    3. Thank you again Susan! And, I need to remind myself too that He knows what He is doing. Thanks for sharing Edie's post; I will check it out!

      Love, Hester

  2. Hester - this is a wonderful post. Who hasn't been (or is) there? I could SO relate to so much of what you wrote. Encouraging others is especially hard when we are in the pits of discouragement ourselves. Speaking encouraging words that give life rather than discouraging words of death is something I've been convicted about over the past couple of days. I want to be a Barnabas to others, and that takes mindful effort, consistency and persistence. And, when we have friends who are really stuck in the mire, we have to be willing to press in, not run away after our prayers appear to fail and initial words of life seemingly fall on deaf ears.

    Thanks for being an encourager to so many, sister!

    1. Good word Jeannette!

      And, thank you for your encouragement to me. I hear you on speaking words of life rather than death - we're in this together right?! ;)

      God bless you, Hester ;)

  3. Excellent post Hester. I too have been in a similar place, struggling at times to rise above that cloud of gloom. I started a story of my own regarding this circumstance, recalling a woman who encouraged me years ago, stopping me in a hallway and saying, "I see Jesus in you." That lifted me more than she could possibly know. So I determined to do likewise. Not just randomly, but INTENTIONALLY seeking out someone to bless with those words. You can so often see Christ in the eyes of believers if you are looking. We all struggle, we all need encouragement. We do have to be intentional about spreading encouragement. Perhaps the more we are determined to look for ways to encourage others, the less discouraged we will become. I dunno. Just a thought.


    1. Shari!

      Good word indeed sister - I love your testimony of the woman who encouraged you and for us to intentionally do likewise. And yes, perhaps when we look to encourage others we will become less discouraged -- good thought!

      God bless you! Hester ;)

  4. FROM TAMI VIA EMAIL: Her testimony is great!

    Hi, Hester.
    I love your Barnabas Who? post. It is so IMPORTANT. Having just come off our retreat recently, your words hits home. "Those who take a firm stand in their faith are a sure target for enemy archery. Even those who serve in ministry experience hard hits. The closer believers are to impacting the Kingdom and reflecting the glory of God, the enemy comes in to evict us from our confidence, courage and conviction. The Deceiver gains pleasure from our doubts, fear and timidity." Our team gets hit hard by the enemy after our retreats, but we are learning to deal with it better. "Resist the devil, and he will flee." We've seen too much ground he's taken from our families lives, and we're pushing back. As are you, my friend. Encouragement is what we need to not lose heart. And scripture is full of it. He is no match for God—or for God’s people whose hearts are filled with His spirit. Yours is beautiful, and keep keep keep writing writing writing!!!
    With love, Tami

    1. Tami,

      Thank you ever so much for taking the time to share with me today! Spurring each other on is vital isn't it?! I appreciate you sharing with me about your retreat too and how the enemy has attacked you -- I think it is helpful to know that others do understand.

      You've ministered to me Tami - boy, I've really come to love the gals in my writing group -- only wish to meet you all someday! Maybe, just maybe the Lord will cross our paths at an event. :)

      Much love to you sister,

  5. Hi Hester,

    Your post ministered to me as well. I have been in the valley a lot lately. Christ didn't come for the healthy but the sick. Why should have to pretend before our brothers and sisters? We should be there for each other, without judgmentalism.

    1. Megan,

      Thank you so much for sharing with me today. It is so good to be reminded that Christ came for the sick and hurting, which includes me too. :) Thank you for being there for me today. ;)

      Much love, Hester ;)

  6. I agree with Susan -- thank you, Hester, for being our Barnabas today (and many other days!) I appreciate your transparency, as always.

    It's easy to feel alone in our discouragement but when we know others are struggling "successfully" it's a great reminder that we can too. We are not alone!

    Praying for you...

    1. Cathy,

      Thank you so much for your prayers - I really need them! You are a blessing and thank you for lifting me up. ;)

      Much love, Hester :)

  7. I'm SO thankful for honest community girl! Thank you for sharing your down moments... it's time to embrace Him together and be lifted up! I know I can't do this life alone anymore. ~ Love all the way from Maine, Amy

    1. Amy,

      I appreciate your heart and sharing with me. Thank you for embracing me, even in my weakness! Thank you for lifting me up and amen that we are not alone!

      Much love from Washington!
      Hester, :)

  8. From Amy via FB:

    "Your blog is always an encouragement to me! Now that we have decided to homeschool, I find myself already feeling overwhelmed and wondering how I'm going to be all things to all people that I oversee in my life. It drains energy and decreases your level of tolerance for things, that is for sure. I find myself having to put on the FULL armor of God multiple times a day, just to make it through! Here's to the Shield of Faith, with which we extinguish the fiery arrows of Satan!"

    1. Amy, God bless you sister! Thank you so much for taking the time to encourage and share with me today. I pray you are blessed in your homeschooling - what a journey. Amen to the Shield of Faith! Much love to you, Hester

  9. From Jude via email:

    "Ah Barnabas.... oh dear one, something is up! So many believers feeling discouraged recently, including myself particularly this week... In the Name of Christ I put up that Sheild of Faith over you sweet Hester and I said AWAY FROM HER you evil doers! She is NOT YOURS for the taking, she belongs in the Kingdom of God and nothing can snatch her from His Hand! In the Almighty Name Of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings Jesus Christ! AMEN!"

    1. Jude,

      You are awesome! And, your son is so blessed to have you. I LOVE the drawing - put it in a visual place - he will never forget it! I am having Cooper memorize the passage right now and he's got about half of it down and it's been fun to add some motions etc. ;) Great passage!

      Thank you so much for your prayer over my life- it was powerful sister and you have lifted my heart! Even this morning while I was exercising I was listening to sermon on the radio and it was about fighting the good fight and the passage was 2 Cor. and how our light and momentary troubles achieve for us an eternal glory! It was so right on and was praising God through it with His timing!

  10. Oh, sweet Hester...I continue to be amazed how close your writing matches what I am feeling. Although, I don't like the thought of any of my sisters in Christ being discouraged, etc...it does bring a bit of comfort knowing that I not alone in my struggles. I love this post! Your writing is such an encouragement!
    Can I share something with you? After I read this post, I did a little dance. You see, for the longest time I struggled with what I presumed was my lack of giftedness. Every time I took a spiritual gifts test, it came back encourager. I kept thinking really, how come I can't sing, write, cook, clean, etc...what good is the gift of encouragement and how can that gift ever be used in a tangible way? Well, recently I began seeing how encouragement can be an important gift to give others in their walk (Christian or not). Instead of wishing for something else, I decided to embrace this unique gift and celebrate others with my words. (Cards, letters, emails, comments, etc.) Seriously, it has only been the last few weeks in which I started feeling this...and then your post--which I am taking as a 100% confirmation in my life. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You’re the best and I can't wait to have coffee with you some day! Love and blessings this week! Kim

    1. Kim, Kim, Kim,

      I love what you shared with me tonight! Thank you so very much. You have truly encouraged me and I love how God has been confirming things to you too. What a thrill that I could be a part of it!

      I pray that you are thoroughly encouraged as you move forward in faith in your gifting and calling to the Lord.

      Much love to you sister,
      Hester, ;)