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Honest words

'Lord, we want to be honest with you...'

Something to read

Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

- Hebrews 11:36-38.

Something to think about

Later in the letter to the Hebrews, the writer explains that he has written to them because he wants to encourage them.

Forgive me, but I think that I might have excluded some of these lines from a letter of encouragement! This is very strong stuff. The reminder that the heroes of the faith were brutally tortured at times and even murdered for their faith isn’t the normal way in which I go about encouraging people!

However, the writer to the Hebrews writes in this way precisely because he wants the people in his congregation to be full of courage as they face the challenges of their day.

He wanted literally to en-courage them.

He doesn’t want them to have any illusions. It is clear that in the church at the time there was persecution and some people had wandered away from the faith. They needed to be reminded of those who had gone before them and of the extraordinary courage that they had shown.

By ourselves most of us are timid and weak. We lack courage, even to face the most mundane challenges. But if we are to be effective for God today we will need courage and we need the inspiration of those who have gone before us.

Something to do

The problems of our society and our world are immense. Totally overwhelming. Reflect on one thing that you can do today that will help one other person, and then pray for the courage to do something about it.

Something to pray

Lord we want to be honest with you. We are often timid and fearful, and we would much rather avoid challenges and problems than face them. Grant to us your wisdom so that we will face every challenge with courage and with grace.

Help us to support others who are facing big problems in their lives. Help us to be true en-couragers to them.

Thank you for the way in which you have given courage to people through thousands of years, and please grant us your courage today.

We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today's contributor is the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, former General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.