"It isn't that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count them up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune." -Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
This is Ebenezer Scrooge speaking to the Ghost of Christmas Past, of his former boss, Fezziwig.
Encouragement and consolation and comfort are big business. Think about the billion-dollar industries that are set up around those three principles. Everything from vacation and resort tourism to the psychiatry/psychology professions to every entertainment industry under the sun. And everything in between. Much of which is necessary and even integral to life. I couldn't live without music (I don't think) and I can't count how many movies have spoken to me and added something to my outlook and character. Books as well, too numerous to mention. All aimed at encouraging me in my plight, my purpose, my calling. At least, that's what I take from them. And as the cycle of suffering continues in many circles around the world, unabated, those industries will continue to thrive to a greater or lesser degree, until the Second Coming of Jesus. But:
Encouragement is free. "Freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8).
"Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more." (2 Corinthians 7:6-7)
Paul, in writing again to the Corinthians, exults in the very thing that Fezziwig had become so adept in: namely, the active encouragement of those who were "cast down". If in reading this, you realize that there indeed are those out there today (Christian and non) who are cast down and need encouragement, I heartily encourage you to come back to the land of the living. If you walk around wondering if people need encouragement, whether you can sense it on them or not, (as you're led of the Holy Spirit) do it. Encourage them. Smile, talk, open the conversation. But use wisdom and make sure you're not doing it without the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Notice where Paul placed the origin of the encouragement he received from Titus. It was from the Christians at Corinth. It says "wherewith he (Titus) was comforted of you". But where did they get it? Did it arise ex nihilo (out of nothing)? The same model is expressed in the first chapter of the same letter (verses 3 and 4): "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." Did you catch that? God encourages us and we in turn give it out. That's brilliant.