by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson


The Power of Encouragement

You’ve heard the phrase “reach out and touch someone.”  But why get involved and help others when you’re busy with your own concerns?  What difference does it make anyway?  You’ll be amazed when you experience the power of encouragement and see its boomerang effect.

Howie and I were overwhelmed by the many expressions of kindness we received in Phoenix.
    When our friend Mr. Felix Story found out we were traveling to Phoenix for Howie’s brain surgery in February ’96, he gladly invited us to stay at his home.  He had known Howie for over 30 years, for his son Ken was Howie’s best friend since childhood.  Mr. Story let us use one of his cars and took us out to eat several times.  Being a widower, he enjoyed our company and we appreciated his kindness.  His hospitality provided a peaceful haven during this storm in our lives.  It was no small coincidence that Mr. Story had also undergone brain tumor surgery himself a couple of years earlier by Dr. Spetzler at Barrows Neurological Institute.
    Mr. Story’s son, Ken, flew out from southern California to encourage Howie the Friday after his surgery.  Howie felt so good following his release from the hospital earlier that day that he decided to meet Ken himself at the airport.  When Ken came through the gates, he was shocked to see Howie standing there!  He said, “I expected to go to the hospital and see Howie connected to tubes, and here he is at the airport.”  We all celebrated Howie’s release by going out to eat.
    Two days prior to surgery, Howie and I visited Northwest Community Church in Phoenix, where Randy Murphy, a former pastor friend of mine, was on the pastoral staff.  When he found out why we were in town, Randy told his senior pastor.  On that Sunday in church, we heard this announcement: “Will Howie and Jeanne Tomlinson please stand up?”  We stood and the pastor announced that Howie was going to have his second brain surgery at Barrows and led in prayer for us.  We felt greatly touched by the encouragement we received from this church of over 1,000.  Pastor Randy and his wife also took time out of their busy schedules to visit Howie in the hospital and have us over for dinner.
    Two weeks later, we returned to the church and the pastor asked us to stand again!  When he announced the good news of Howie’s successful surgery, the congregation clapped and cheered!  We’ll never forget Northwest Community Church, for we felt the power of encouragement there.
    Family also provided much needed support.  Howie’s folks flew out from Long Island to be with us during and after the surgery.  It was difficult for mom to see her son suffering again, but it meant a lot to us to have them there.  After they left, my mother and nephew Aaron flew in from southern California to visit.  Our family support made us feel secure.
    Many others reached out to Howie with cards, flowers, fruit baskets and prayer support.  The encouragement we received made our burdens lighter and helped hasten Howie’s healing.  The people who reached out and touched us will always hold a special place in our hearts.  And they were our motivation to reach out and touch others with encouragement.

God’s Word says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).  The law of Christ is love, and providing encouragement is an expression of that love.  There are many ways to reach out and touch others: giving hugs, writing cards and emails, offering hospitality, visiting, providing meals and sending flowers.  And there’s a boomerang effect to all thisó those who encourage and bless others receive abundant blessings in return.
    Never underestimate the power of encouragement.  It is the power that gives hope to the despairing, peace to the troubled, love to the lonely, comfort to the sorrowing, healing to the helpless, rest to the weary, and joy to the downcast soul.  Even though it is in short supply in the world today, encouragement is one of the most powerful forces for good.  It also has a return address: those who encourage others end up being encouraged themselves.

For Those Who Hurt

Never take for granted the kindnesses shown you in your time of suffering.  Be grateful for any encouragement you’ve received, for it has great power to heal and bring recovery.  And remember to reach out and touch others in need.  The more you care, the more others will care in return.  Easing others’ burdens will help to ease yours.  Exercise the power of encouragement and you will never be forgotten!



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Chapter 20: Easier the Second Time Table of Contents Chapter 22: An Open Book