Loved and Filled

I recently sat next to a stranger. Before we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves, we were instructed to pray for the person sitting next to us. The young man and I looked awkwardly at each other.

“I guess what I need most,” I confessed, “is encouragement in my spirit.”

“Yeah, me too,” I heard in reply.

It’s been a tough year. If we spend any time on social media and have a deep conviction to fight for relationships, discouragement can take up residence in our spirits. Why? We witness, and sometimes absorb, fear, weariness, confusion, self-interest, and divisiveness.

Is there hope? Absolutely. God, who gives endurance and encouragement (see Romans 5:15), is faithful and has called us into fellowship with His son Jesus Christ our Lord (see 1 Corinthians 1:9). This is good news! Let’s not forget who we are and what we have in Christ.

First, we are chosen and deeply loved by God. We are the Bride of Christ. Jesus is committed to us. He will never leave us. We do not have to fight for His attention or affection. I imagine myself sitting at the table He has prepared for me in the presence of my current enemy—discouragement. In my spirit, I declare, “Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love” (Song of Songs 2:4).

Jesus invites us to abide in His love (see John 15:9). For a fuller understanding of how this can impact our well-being and witness, I encourage us to receive this message and allow it to take root in our lives.

Second, we are not alone. We have been given each other as members of the Body of Christ, and we have been given the Holy Spirit to fill and empower us. We embody the presence of God on earth! Does our culture and our world need the presence of God? Absolutely. In his book Beautiful Resistance, Jon Tyson writes, “God is looking for a people who want to be filled with his presence and live for his purposes in the world. He wants a surrendered body willing to express his heart and carry out his mission on the earth” (pg. 18).

Out of a place of being loved, we can love. Out of a place of being filled, we can give. May this embolden and encourage us to be present in our communities and with each other, allowing God to demonstrate His love, His character, and His gospel through us.

As a benediction, I offer this song. Be encouraged.

Jen Vogel

Jen served as national director for Alliance Women from 2015-2023; she serves in a variety of ministry capacities, including on the President's Cabinet for The Alliance. She enjoys reading, travel, and completing the New York Times crossword puzzle daily. Jen and her husband, Doug, attend Dover Avenue Alliance Church in Orange City, Iowa.

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