Like most four-year-olds, Ruby loved to run, sing, dance, and play. But she started complaining about pain in her knees. Ruby’s parents took her in for tests. The results were shocking—a diagnosis of cancer, stage 4 neuroblastoma. Ruby was in trouble. She was quickly admitted to the hospital.
Ruby’s hospital stay lingered on, spilling over into the Christmas season, a hard time to be away from home. One of Ruby’s nurses came up with the idea to place a mailbox outside her room so family could send letters full of prayers and encouragement to her. Then the plea went out on Facebook, and that’s when the volume of mail coming in from friends and complete strangers surprised everyone, most of all Ruby. With each letter received (more than 100,000 total), Ruby grew a little more encouraged, and she finally got to go home.
Paul’s letter to the people at Colossae was exactly that—a letter (Colossians 1:2). Words penned on a page that carried hopes for continued fruitfulness and knowledge and strength and endurance and patience (vv. 10–11). Can you imagine what a dose of good medicine such words were to the faithful at Colossae? Just knowing that someone was praying nonstop for them strengthened them to stay steady in their faith in Christ Jesus.
Our words of encouragement can dramatically help others in need.
How have others’ words encouraged me? What opportunities do I have to give someone else the “letter” of encouragement they need?
In Colossians 1:9–12, Paul strings together a beautiful chain of cause and effect ideas where one thing leads to another, which leads to another. The clue that this is what Paul is doing is in the words “so that.” Twice he uses this phrase to connect what he is saying to his previous statement (vv. 10, 11). His progression of thought goes like this: Knowing God’s will through the Spirit (v. 9) leads to making decisions and acting in ways that honor God; knowing Him more (v. 10) leads to endurance, patience, and thanksgiving (vv. 11–12). In this progression we can see how God plans for our growth—one thing builds on another. But it seems significant that this list ends with thanksgiving. The ultimate result of this progression is joyful thanks to God.