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In Genesis, we’re told the saga of Joseph’s life in a fair bit of detail: obnoxious favourite son, resented brother, abused slave, forgotten prisoner, trusted dream-interpreter until finally, history-shaping leader. But then his brothers stand before him, desperate for help from the boy they harmed and Joseph chooses to be big rather than small, generous with the blessing rather than withholding. Why? Because he’s faced his limitations and, with God’s aid, has stretched beyond them. When he says, ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives,’ (Genesis 20:50) he’s acknowledging the God whose design for our lives is always to do immeasurably more in and through us than we can ever imagine.

Incidentally, our English word ‘intended’ comes from the old French word for ‘to stretch out, to extend’. When leaders like us reach out and encourage each other, we do it in the name of the one who’s plan is always to stretch us, expand our vision and enable us to see something more of what he sees and feel more of what he feels. Not so the need will overwhelm us, but so that his power and love will overwhelm us all the more.

We can be generous and vocal in our support of each other because God is generous in his view of us. Encouragement is meant to be encouraging, it’s meant to do you good. It’s meant to build you up, and it’s spiritually, emotionally and socially necessary because being forged into the likeness of Jesus isn’t an easy journey.

So listen up! You can do this. You will get there. You have a future and a hope. Imagine what it will look like as God takes the more you long for in his name, and makes it even more and more and more than you can dare to ask for?

And next time an encourager takes you out for coffee, listen. And allow yourself to believe and receive God’s narrative about who you are and your calling. From where God stands, the horizon of your life looms large. So let him stretch you, extend you, encourage you. He always means what he says.