It saddens me to see how difficult it is for people to encourage others.
I get it – it’s costly. It takes thought, time and energy. In our North American culture, people live such frantic, self-centred lives — noticing other people’s need for encouragement is not a priority. We miss opportune times to lift others up because we are so committed to our day-do-day, high speed, production-oriented lives.
I’ve noticed that there HAS been a wave of emphasis on kindness these days — I’ve seen all sorts of Facebook quotes, inspirational statements, pay-it-forward stories and challenges about being kind to others. But I don’t read much about the incredible power of speaking kind words. Scripture says that “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16.24) That’s deep impact — the effect of words can touch the soul and the bones. Alas, the words that we choose are often many, but not meaningful.
I recently asked someone why she thought it was so difficult to encourage others and she bluntly answered, “Being an encourager requires intentionality – it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I try to be in what I do but I just don’t have the inclination or the energy to be wise and gentle with my words.”
Can’t be more honest than that!
I’ve been in that place where someone else’s words have been life to me – they have given me hope. Encouragement has been words that have quietly but profoundly communicated, “I am with you. I care about you. You will get through this. You’re not alone” and when I have felt completely overwhelmed with the ugliness of this world, these kind, life-giving words have been medicine to my soul. I knew that I had been noticed and loved . . . and the next few minutes became bearable.
Now I am in another season of my life and I want to be a woman who “finds joy in giving an apt reply– and how good is a timely word! (Proverbs 15.23)
I looked up the word, “apt” this morning.
apt: suited to the purpose and occasion
apt: prepared, ready, willing.
I strive to be that person who notices and empathizes with the plight of others, comes along side and cares. I want to be prepared and willing to speak wise, comforting words, suited to the purpose.
This kind of encouragement is God-like. Scripture is full of promises about God’s provision for us in times of difficulty. Through the prophet Isaiah, God reassured His people, “So do not be fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41.10)
Ultimately, it is God who holds onto our lives but He uses us to be “God, with skin on” – for a season.
Kind words, based on biblical truth and wisdom, offer perspective and hope.
Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already. Davis Willis