“If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.” Ro 12:8 NLT

Many a man and woman who quit would have kept going if they had just received a word of encouragement from someone. Encouragement is so vital that the Scriptures rank it up there with gifts like teaching and leadership (See Ro 12:6-8). Here are two stories that illustrate the power of encouragement. Story one: Not long ago the world watched as three gray whales, icebound off Point Barrow, Alaska, floated battered and bloody, gasping for breath at a hole in the ice. The whales’ only hope was to be somehow transported five miles past the ice pack to the open sea. Rescuers began cutting a string of breathing holes about twenty yards apart in the six-inch-thick ice. For eight days they painstakingly coaxed the whales from one hole to the next, mile after mile. Along the way one of the trio vanished and was presumed dead. But finally, with the help of Russian icebreakers, the other two whales, Putu and Siku, swam to freedom. Story two: Jackie Robinson was the first black player in the U.S. to play major league baseball. While breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. Playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he made an error and his own fans began to boo him. As he stood, humiliated, at second base, “Pee Wee” Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Robinson and they faced the crowd together. The fans grew quiet; the game continued. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career! Encouragement—it’s a powerful thing. So who can you encourage today?