I have driven into NYC twice in my life and have taken the Lincoln Tunnel each time, two times in and two times out of the city. Four times total (did you see the math there?) It is a bit unnerving. 1.5 miles of driving with a lot of cars in a very tight space underneath a lot of stone, dirt and water. It is always a relief to come out into the light on the other side.
The longest tunnel for cars in the world is the Laerdalstunnelsen that helps connect the cities of Oslo & Bergen in Norway. This 15.2 mile tunnel is an all weather tunnel that goes under a fjord, eliminating the need for a ferry. One of the most unusual things about this tunnel is that every 6 km (3.7 miles) they added in lights that display the beauty of the rocks and help break up the tension of going 15.2 miles underneath all that rock, dirt and water. The 6 km rhythm of experiencing the lights brings some peace in the midst of the long journey through the tunnel.
Does it feel a bit like we are in the middle of a tunnel now? Not sure when we will come up out into the light and into a new world? It's been 5 months or so now since we have had to shut every thing down and we still don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is no way to know just how long this tunnel is.
One of the most important things we can do in a time like this is to create rhythms of encouragement in our lives to fight off the discouragement so many feel by being in this tunnel. Every so many life steps, we need to take time to be encouraged just like the lights in the Laerdalstunnelsen spaced every 6 km. We need to find a rhythm of encouragement.
Here are six suggestions for experiencing encouragement along this journey:
- A Rhythm of Worship: Recognizing the One who is the Light - Jesus Christ - through worship is one of the most encouraging things we can do. Whether it's weekly through Facebook Live as a church or personal times alone with God, worship gives us perspective on who God is and what He can do. With our hearts fully engaged in worship we find encouragement to take next steps.
- The Rhythm of Thanksgiving: We don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful. Daily thanksgiving brings daily encouragement. I have a notecard I use for prayer daily that reminds me to find five things to be thankful for in that moment. When I remind myself of what God is doing, I find encouragement to look for even more things that day to be thankful for.
- The Rhythm of Prayer: Prayer is a great way to hand over your discouragements to God who can more than handle them. Simon Peter wrote a letter where he told the readers - "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you." To cast your cares is to give them away and let them go. In the rhythm of prayer think through everything that is discouraging you and give them to God & then, no matter how tempting, don't take them back.
- The Rhythm of Remembering God's Promises: When's the last time you spent time reflecting on the promises of God? This should be a daily rhythm. I have a set of cards with a promise from God on each that I write down in my journal and reflect on each day. They remind me that there is an end to the tunnel and God will be there when I get there just like He is with me in the tunnel.
- The Rhythm of Thinking Right Thinking: Scripture reminds us to think rightly (Philippians 4:8) and to renew our minds daily (Romans 12:1, 2). What we focus our thinking on helps determine our level of discouragement and encouragement. Learn to control your thoughts instead of your thoughts controlling you.
- The Rhythm of Encouraging Others: Don't give in to the discouragement of others. Be an encourager. Point people to Jesus. Send an email. Reply with a text. Make a phone call. Write a letter. Share a verse. Meet a discouraged world with an enthusiastic encouragement and help someone else see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We will see it one day and come out on the other side. There can also be lights throughout the tunnel as well as we move into specific rhythms of encouragement. Jesus is and always will be the Light. Be encouraged in Him.