December 30, 2021
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"Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (TLB)
I didn't know pizzas could talk until a giant pepperoni pie made me cry.
Actually, it wasn't the pizza that spoke hope and solicited my tears. It was the familiar scrawl on the Post-it note beside it: I've got dinner tonight, and God's got YOU!
I was in the midst of a difficult season of trust. I had committed to listening to Jesus and following where He led, but my obedience had landed me on a path filled with challenges and setbacks, disappointments and delays.
My heart was hurting. My strength was sapped. And my hope was waning. I wanted to follow Jesus with abandon, but on most days, I couldn't even see where we were going.
Every step I took provided a chance to choose faith over fear, to practice worship instead of worry. But my feet were growing weary. And my faith was beginning to waver.
I felt so alone in my discouragement, so unseen in my struggles. As the road stretched long and the discouragement stacked high, my confident steps were giving way to a shaky stumble ...
Until a friend used a gentle, blue-inked message and a giant take-and-bake pizza to remind me I'm not alone.
She'd slipped into my house when I was picking up my kids at school and left on my kitchen counter the biggest pizza she could find. It would feed my family of seven, and more importantly, it would starve the lies that had taken root in my weary soul - I can't keep going. Nobody understands. I'm so alone.
It wasn't an elixir for my exhaustion or an answer to all my questions. But it was a timely reminder that my feet were enfolded in love and fueled by God's strength, not limited by my own.
My friend couldn't change my path, but she could remind me of the One who shares my steps. She couldn't increase my faith, but she could tenderly declare God's unmatched faithfulness.
In the book of Joshua, we find God's people smack in the middle of a long journey of their own. Four decades prior, God had delivered them from the bonds of slavery in Egypt and beckoned them to follow Him to a new home in a new place.
However, the Israelites' path to freedom had not gone as they'd imagined. Following God in faith had been more difficult and demanding than they'd anticipated. Their path had been riddled with obstacles and dotted with detours.
After 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites had lost the zeal that had marked their journey's start. But as they prepared to travel the last stretch of their path into the promised land, God didn't criticize their weariness or minimize their fears.
He simply reminded them they were not alone - "Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
God's encouragement didn't change His children's path; it changed their perspective. His words shifted their eyes from their weariness to His with-ness, from their lack to His provision.
Joshua 1:9 reminds me that encouragement doesn't need to be wrapped in fancy words or delivered with a spray of confetti. Sometimes the best way to encourage one another is to simply bear witness to Christ's with-ness.
Because true hope is never determined by what lies before us but by who stands beside us. And our strength for the journey isn't found in the fortitude of our feet but in the faithfulness of our Savior.
That's why, at Proverbs 31 Ministries, our deepest desire is to eradicate biblical poverty by connecting women all over the globe with hope and Truth. Because we believe there's no greater encouragement than knowing Jesus and being rooted in His Word. And we want every sister who travels across the dust of this broken world to know that Christ is with her and for her.
Would you partner with us in this mission, friend? Let's be women who fuel weary feet and equip others for the journey.
Together, we can point people to Jesus ... with a smile or a prayer, a gift or a pizza ... with or without the pepperoni!
Dear Jesus, I know true hope doesn't rise from my circumstances; it rests in You. Please open my eyes to someone in my life who needs encouragement. Show me how to bear witness to Your with-ness today. In Your Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
As we reflect on this past year, it can be easy for the hard to overshadow the hope. But, because we put our faith in Jesus, the only source of hope, we can choose to hope in the midst of the hard. And we want to continue to help you do the same by continuing to provide free biblical resources to you and other women like you. Before this year is over, will you join our family of donors who have given in 2021? Give now!
Visit Alicia Bruxvoort's website and grab a free printable with 20 ideas for delivering encouragement today.
Want to leave 2021 feeling encouraged? Join us to watch a special Facebook video from today's devotion writer, Alicia Bruxvoort, in our Encouragement for Today Devotions Community Group! Head over at 9 a.m. ET to watch, or catch the video later on your own time.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
1 Timothy 4:10, "For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe." (ESV)
Who needs your encouragement right now? What's one thing you can do today to deliver hope? Share your ideas in the comments and we'll spur each other on.
© 2021 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.