I love words. They can change your life and the lives of others. Words are my vocation, partly because of some encouragement I received when I was only a senior in high school.
Years ago, a stranger clipped my senior picture from the local paper and enclosed it with a hand-written, encouraging note in the mail: “You have a beautiful smile.” Just five words–and a simple gesture that took maybe five or ten minutes, but can you guess I started flashing my pearly whites after that?
Those Words Made an Impression
Those thoughtful words made such an impression on me that I decided I could do the same thing. As a young wife and mom I started scouring our small-town newspaper for articles about people: wedding announcements, death notices, school honorees–anything that warranted a “Good for you!” “I’m praying for you,” or “I’m so sorry.”
People would call me, wondering why a stranger would take the time to send them a note. I wasn’t trying to enlist them for anything. My purpose? To encourage them by copying a kind deed someone had done for me. Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38). Maybe my simple “words” could classify as doing some good for others.
A Lack of Encouraging Words
But it took a negative experience to cement my belief in the true power of encouragement: working in a job where words of encouragement were as scarce as the time given me to complete the demanding work overload for two anxious employers. I was young and inexperienced but it seemed as if mistakes were, um, unforgivable. The constant lack of grace, sensitivity, and encouragement left me drained–and sent me home sprawling across my bed in tears on many nights.
I hadn’t yet discovered my love of writing then, but I knew enough to recognize the power of positive, encouragement. God reminded me of the powerful teaching in Proverbs 25:11 (NIV): “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
The job ended after a year but my determination solidified: With God’s help, I would always try to paint word pictures that would bring beauty, encouragement, and healing–ones that would create “apples of gold in settings of silver” in the hearts of others.
God’s Encouraging Words
Ultimately it was–and is–God’s encouragement that constantly lifts my spirits and keeps me positive and loving life. Here are five words that can change your life and the lives of others:
- “I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2 NIV).
- “My peace I give you” (John 14:27 NIV).
- “I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15 NIV).
- “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV).
- “You are precious and honored” (Isaiah 43:4 NIV).
Now, those are the kind of words that make a difference.
(Image quote from Day-votions® for Women, © 2009, Rebecca Barlow Jordan (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan).
It’s Your Turn
When and how have you discovered the power of encouragement? What words have encouraged you? How have the words of God and others changed your life? Challenge for study: What five words in Scripture can you find that have made (or could make) a difference in your life? I’d love to hear from you anytime. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.
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