• Encouragement for the Soul

    Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24

    We live in a world with increasing lack of personal interaction with others. Sure, we may speak to others via text or on social media, but we have fewer and fewer opportunities to truly be encouraged by the presence and words of another.

    I’ve recently been studying the power of words and have found that words have more power than we sometimes realize. As kids, we learn to quote the common phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” While this may be a witty defense, it simply is not true. Words are powerful. They have the ability to inspire someone toward greatness, to spur someone on to take action, or to completely crush us.

    We all need the life-giving power of encouraging words in our life. They lift us up when we are feeling discouraged, they keep us going when we want to give up, they touch our heart and renew our spirits.

    “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”

    Proverbs 12:25

    My junior year in college, there was a time that I was completely overwhelmed by my course load and just life in general. I was dealing with a recent heartbreak, way behind on several projects, and my grades were in free fall. I was so anxious I couldn’t sleep and I started feeling depressed and defeated. When I realized I would likely fail that term of classes, I went to my dad for help. He took a look at my syllabi, and I braced for the bad news that there was no redeeming my situation. He looked me in the eye, smiled and said, “This is very doable. All we need is a plan. We’ll plan to work, and work the plan.” Tears filled my eyes and suddenly I felt hopeful again. My mind felt clearer and my heart lighter just hearing those simple words of encouragement. With my dad’s help, I was able to successfully complete the term with passing grades and gained a new perspective and tool for when life gets overwhelming, “This is doable. Plan to work and work the plan”. It’s an encouragement that I now share with my kids when they feel overwhelmed.

    Even in our day to day lives we can get discouraged: when a project at work is overwhelming, or you are going on the 6th day without sleep because you have a sick kid at home, or you begin to question your ability as a parent when your teen slams the door once more. It’s in these moments, that we are at risk of listening to the lies of discouragement that creep in and try to keep us down.

    Because of this, it is important to be connected to a community of people who will cheer you on and support you and be a source of encouragement for you. We need to surround ourselves with people who will be a source of encouragement for us–who will speak life and truth into our soul, who will remind us of God’s grace and truth when we forget.

    Author John Maxwell is known for saying, “Encouragement is like oxygen to the soul, and everyone needs it.”

    This week, consider bringing an encouraging word to the people you encounter. Even the smallest compliment or encouraging word, or simple smile could mean the world to someone. And don’t forget to encourage yourself. Speak God’s truth and grace to your own soul when you are feeling hard on yourself. Speak to yourself like you would a cherished friend, one who is beloved by God.

    And remember our ultimate encourager, the one who is our greatest champion and number one fan…our Heavenly Father. Through His Spirit and His word, we can be reminded of His great love for us and that we are His beautiful masterpiece!

    “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

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