9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.
11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.
14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel. Genesis 35:9-15
We’ve seen this theme quite often in the last 20 chapters of Genesis: God reassuring His patriarchs of Him blessing them. They must have had many doubts along the way. Life just does that to people, and especially since they didn’t have much “light” to go on. We view it from our perspective because we know the full story and how it ended for them. They knew very little of what we now know, so they had to be encouraged along the way.
The odd thing is, we too need encouragement from God and others. Life can just drain you of emotional energy. There aren’t a lot of encouraging things happening in the news – or at least they’re not telling them to us.
So, we find encouragement where we can.
We read Scripture and it encourages us.
We talk with people and, depending on their mood, can encourage or discourage us.
But we have the power to encourage others. Those few kind words can sustain a person for a long time.
A case in point, a guest to our singing group who I had never met before made a good comment about my singing after rehearsal last week. I didn’t expect it at all.
A week later, I’m writing about it because it was memorable and encouraging.
It’s so easy to do. It’s the unexpectedness that makes it that much better. For these patriarchs, they probably didn’t expect to be encouraged by having the God of the Universe tell them to hang in there, but He did.