“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
Lots of new words are floating around right now: coronavirus, pandemic, social distancing, PPEs (personal protective equipment), N95 masks, lockdown, etc. They’re peppering our thoughts, the media, and personal conversation. Seems we can’t talk about anything else!
We’re all under significant stress in our homes and relationships. There’s some indication, too, that the number of suicides is going up as well. it’s essential that we battle evil with good, fighting against Satan’s wiles with God’s life-giving messages.
There’s so little we can do right now short of staying at home and washing our hands—but let’s not add to the misery by lashing out at loved ones or government leaders. While voicing our discouragement is important, let’s concentrate on “healing” words that build up, encourage, strengthen, and enlighten. This may or may not include humor, depending on the situation, but laughter is often a powerful medicine, too (see Proverbs 17:22). So, how can our speech offer a healing balm?
First, remember that “what’s in the well comes up in the bucket.” We have to start with our attitudes within—dwell on God’s word, His faithfulness, His power, and His attentiveness to our prayers. Ask His Holy Spirit to change us inside out. He is faithful to hear, and His plans are for our sanctification and good.
Next, even if we are boiling inside with negativity, the discipline of speaking out in positive, selfless ways helps cool off our inner turmoil. Consider the following contrasts in word usage:
- Pause before speaking. Take a deep breath, and ask yourself quickly—“Will what I’m about to say be the truth? Will it build up the other person, or will it only gratify myself?” Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath (James 1:19).
- Focus on words of praise instead of criticism of others, regardless of whether they are friends or public officials.
- Use patient tones of voice instead of angry/anxious rants. When your pitch starts to sharpen, soften it.
- Ask for forgiveness, and forgive others. “I’m sorry” may be the two most important words we can use right now. Even if an apology isn’t needed, you can always say, “I’m sorry you’re going through this.”
- Dwell on expressions of hope instead of hopelessness. This pandemic will not last forever…it will leave a lot of damage in its wake, but it will not define us or defeat us.
- Look for blessings instead of complaining about inconveniences. If you’re not sick enough to be in the hospital or if you haven’t lost a loved one, count yourself blessed to be alive, even in isolation and financial difficulty. God will help you through this.
Now is the time to bring the good news about Jesus Christ to a dying world, to those who are thirsty for His love, joy, and peace. Our words can offer His healing and hope. If we ask His Holy Spirit to give us opportunities and the words to speak, He will change us as well as others.
Dear Father, only You can truly heal our nation. Please grant us wisdom, prudence, and the necessary sacrifices to halt the spread of coronavirus. At the same time, give us an extra measure of Your Holy Spirit to bring Your healing words to others…make us Your beacons of light to a darkened world. In the name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, Amen.
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