God of Encouragement - the title for the Sunday Sermon captured my interest. Most of us need encouragement at one time or another. The Bible tells us that God seeks to have a deep connection with us; this is reassuring. When we are children, we trust that our families will take care of us. As we grow older, we take more responsibility for our own well being, and sometimes, for the well being of other people. We might need encouragement or reassurance that we are doing the right things. We need to put more of our trust in God. God gives us a refuge, a place where we can feel safe.
Our pastor, Rebecca, encouraged us to read the Psalms, referring to them as a repository of human religious experience. She called them a tool for connecting with God. Psalm 46:1 tells us, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble." Psalm 27:1 is even more encouraging, "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"
When I was in Sunday School, more than fifty years ago, we memorized Psalm 23. I still remember, and can recite most of it. Verse 4 reassures me, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Many contemporary Christian songs are based on the Psalms. One of my favourite songs is Matt Redman's "10,00 Reasons". The opening chorus is a paraphrase of Psalm 103, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship his Holy Name." I feel inspired to read more of the Psalms, and to look to God for strength and encouragement.