What a beautiful word.
What a beautiful thing to do for another.
What a beautiful thing to experience.
It means to give support, confidence, or hope to someone; to give advice so that they will do or continue to do something; and to help stimulate or to develop.
It is also interesting to notice that "encouragement" is a verb - an action word. Something that has to be done, acted on. Like life, it is something one does.
Living life, a good and satisfying life, is not easy. At times we get tired and feel like giving up. Therefore, all of us need others to encourage us in all the various areas of our lives. At home, at work, and in the community.
Some of us will know how life-giving it is when encouragement is offered to us by another person.
Some of us might not know what it is like to be encouraged. That is a shame.
But being an encouraging person does not come easy. It is a practice that has to be nurtured and developed.
Encouragement in fact is a fruit of the Spirit of God.
There is a biblical story from the Book of Daniel, where 3 Jewish men would not conform to the society around them. So the king had them thrown into a fiery furnace. It can be very discouraging to feel like a minority being forced to conform to a larger society with practices you don't agree with. But these men stuck with one another, and encouraged one another. And more than that, they didn't loose their focus on God's Presence with them. It was the Spirit of God that protected them and kept them from giving up.
We need encouraging people around us to help us live a more full and satisfying life.
We need to cooperate more with the Spirit of God that is already within us, that we may be sources of encouragement to those around us.