To encourage means to inspire with courage, spirit, and hope; to hearten; to urge forward. Everyone occasionally gets discouraged. We face times when life seems difficult, progress slow, or challenges insurmountable. How important it is at these times to have someone give us a pep-talk based not on positive thinking or blind optimism but on the manifold promises and hope held out to us in the Scriptures (Mickey Connolly, in C.J. Mahanney ed., Why Small Groups?, p. 63).