How to Stay Encouraged
NOTE: The following is the English version of a letter sent to LOGOI’s national missionaries in January to encourage them at the start of the new year. We thought you’d like a little encouragement, too.
I heard a story about a little boy who loved baseball. The problem was, he was very small for his age and not very athletic. The league he played in required that every child play, but even his own teammates would groan every time he came up to bat.
As fate would have it, the little boy came up to bat in a critical play-off game. His team was down by one run, there were two outs with a runner on third. He had already struck out three times; never coming close to hitting the ball. The little boy had no doubt he would strike out once again.
He was right.
In just three pitches, he struck out. His teammates groaned and said out loud how they wished he had never even played baseball. They called him a loser, a no-good, and more. He even heard a few of his teammate’s parents say they wished he was on a different team. The little boy was heartbroken and embarrassed. “They are right,” he said to himself, “I am a loser.”
He went back into the dugout, pulled his cap down over his face as far as he could and sobbed. His coach patted him on the back and said, “better luck next time,” and walked away. He sat alone in the dugout slumped over with tears streaming down his face.
He had been crying for a good while when he realized someone was sitting next to him in the dugout. He looked up to see his dad. “Hey son,” his dad said with a slight smile, “how are you?” The little boy fell into his dad’s arms and sobbed even harder.
After a long hug, the little boy’s dad said, “Why are you crying? The game’s not over.” His dad then pointed to the field where several friends and members of his family were all on the field, including his blind uncle standing on second base.
“Come on, son,” his dad said, “the game is not over. You’re up.”
The little boy did his best to wipe the tears away. He looked out at the field to see everyone smiling, waiting, motioning him to come out to play. “Come on, son, the game is not over and you’re up,” his dad said again.
The little boy grabbed his bat and walked to the plate. His dad had a bucket of baseballs and stood on the pitcher’s mound. “Come on, son,” his dad said with an encouraging smile, “the game is not over.”
The little boy’s dad then proceeded to toss pitch after pitch. The little boy would swing and miss, but every time, his dad would say, “the game’s not over.” His family and friends on the field cheered with every pitch, encouraging the little boy to not give up.
Finally, after missing dozens more pitches, the little boy hit the ball. It was a soft grounder to the second base where his blind uncle stood. The little boy was so surprised he hit the ball he forgot to run to first base. His dad yelled, “Run!” and he took off for first base.
His uncle, of course, could not find the ball and as everyone cheered, the little boy took off for second base. A cousin ran up to grab the ball but “accidentally” stumbled and fell. The little boy started to smile as he rounded second base and took off for third. Another relative tried to grab the ball but he too stumbled and fell as the little boy, now laughing, took off for home.
He could hear everyone yell “slide!” as he came into home plate and with a huge smile, the little boy slid into home plate where his dad yelled, “Safe!” Then with tears now streaming down his dad’s face, he picked up his son, hoisted him on his shoulders, and carried him off the field with all his family and friends cheering.
In a world packed full of discouragement, how do you stay encouraged in your life and ministry? How do you find hope and the strength to “get back up” and try again? How do you inspire hope in others who may feel all they ever do is strike out?
The first lesson is to remember who you are. Your Father is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He knows your name, where you live, what you eat, what makes you happy and sad and what you say, do, and think. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I set you apart…” Matthew 10:30 and 31 tells us that not a single sparrow falls to the ground without our Heavenly Father’s knowledge, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
The second thing is to refresh your spirit. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (see Matthew 11:28-30). Notice He doesn’t say, “Go and do this or that,” He says, “come to me.” Jesus invites you to come to Him and He will give you rest as a gift.
The third and final thing is to refuse to give up. Jesus tells us, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We are also told, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
My friends, to use this little boy’s baseball story as an analogy, let’s remember the Apostle Paul’s words of encouragement to us, “…but I focus on one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (see Philippians 3:12-14).
In other words, “Get back up! You’re up to bat. The game is not over yet.”
May God bless you as you serve Him this year.
P.S. Please click here to support LOGOI’s ongoing mission to equip national pastors and leaders for works of service.