Some things are just better together: fish and chips, buckets and spades, Ant and Dec, stadiums and crowds. Have you ever been in an empty stadium? I have. Aged 11 when I was dragged round a tour of Old Trafford, the home of Man Utd. with my dad and brother. It felt weird, eerie and plain wrong!
Under COVID restrictions, many sports matches have had to happen without crowds. Watching these games on TV doesn’t seem right. There’s no cheering, chanting or general background noise, the atmosphere has gone! To ‘solve’ this, TV channels are providing viewers with an option to ‘add crowd noises’ from previous matches, cleverly matched to what’s going on in the game. ‘Oohs’ at near misses and ‘cheers’ at goals, but this is just for our benefit, the players don’t hear it.
I wonder how those players feel? Not having ‘boos’ or discouraging comments shouted at you is a HUGE positive of no crowds, but surely, they must miss the encouragement and cheering from their fans?
Perhaps you can relate? People who would normally encourage and cheer you on; friends, grandparents, teachers, youth workers, sports coaches, creative arts teachers…I could go on, suddenly no longer able to encourage you in person or like they could before. A ‘well done’ or clap emoji via zoom or email is nothing compared to hearing it in person or a congratulatory hug. If today you could do with some encouragement, in angel-Gabriel style ‘I bring you some good news’ – God is your biggest encourager wants to encourage YOU, and He, unlike humans, cannot be locked out of our lives.
Romans 8:31 says ‘If God is for us, then who can be against us?’. Did you get that? God is FOR you! He’s in your corner, wanting the best for you, proud of your achievements and those little wins which other people don’t see. When Jesus was baptised, ‘a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17), and I believe that as God’s children He also says the same about us. He is pleased with you [insert name]. God loves you, thinks you’re amazing and is cheering you on! Sadly, we’re often quick to forget how God sees us, or find ourselves ‘too busy’ to hear from Him or read these encouragements in the Bible.
Reflect: One of the chants West Brom FC shout to encourage their players is Psalm 23, ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’. This might seem a little strange, but the words are amazing! Take 5 minutes to read through the Psalm. Note the different ways God encouraged and supported the writer which is true for us today. Which resonates with how you’re feeling?
Challenge: This week, why not go out of your way to encourage others? Maybe it’s someone at home you can say it to, or perhaps you can send an encouraging voice note, text or even a letter to someone you can’t see.