One of my favorite authors wrote: “Where can I find encouragement? For that is what I need most.”

Families with a disabled child need frequent encouragement. Raising a disabled child is a long slog, and getting encouragement along the way is vital. However, encouragement doesn’t come for the asking. People will promise to be encouraging, but they will naturally return to their own lives. So we need to seek out encouragement.

There are many sources of encouragement for each of us. Your church should be a source of encouragement, even if it is a frustrating one. I’ll mention a few common sources here, but you will know which works best for you. It may be something that doesn’t even make my list.

Heaven is a giant source of encouragement for me. As Paul says,

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8 : 18).

Living for Christ is an investment that will be rewarded more richly than the most outrageous Wall Street insider deal. This is a long-term encouragement. It’s vitally important, but sometimes our feelings are not looking that far ahead. We’re concerned about making it through the next couple of hours. It’s good to keep heaven in mind.

Laughter is an amazingly powerful medicine. Although laughter can be cruel when it is aimed at mocking the vulnerable, laughter offers tremendous healing when it reminds us that the world is not serious. Life can and should be fun. Laughing at ourselves, the silly world around us, and the jokes we can share is a daily spring of encouragement.

For me, nature and beauty are additional sources of encouragement. Every once in a while, I stop myself. I breathe out and look at the beautiful world around me. When I do this, I find it easier to remember how much I have to be thankful for. Sometimes just stepping outside your door for a few minutes will allow the natural beauty of creation to lift your spirits.

Many of my friends find physical exercise encouraging. Personally, I find more encouragement in a good book. The vital thing is to find the one which works for you. We all need to find some form of encouragement along the way.

Some of you will wonder why I’ve left out so many of the most important sources of encouragement. You’ll think of many wonderful and encouraging things in your life that I’ve failed to mention. Praise God for that. I’ve mentioned only the most universal sources– the ones that are available to everyone, no matter what their situation may be. But whatever your situation is today: Be encouraged.

When you’re in need of encouragement, what works for you?


Hugh Rutledge is the father of a son who has autism. Hugh is a textbook editor, a former missionary to Africa and Asia, and a Sooner football fan. Hugh and his wife and son life in Waltham, Massachusetts.