An Encouraging Word

tulips in a snowEach new year brings with it the urge to clear our closets and our lives of the clutter we’ve collected. We want to clean out the old and make way for the new! The new year is also the time for categorizing our habits and deciding which ones to toss out and which ones to carry forward. One I hope we all consider keeping is the habit of encouraging others.

The Greek word for encouragement is “parakaleo,” which means to call a person to your side in order to aid, assist, counsel, console, comfort, exhort and strengthen. It is a word that accurately describes the role of the Holy Spirit and the way the Spirit works through believers to reach others. Webster’s dictionary defines encourage, “to inspire, to renew or give hope.” And while those without a life of faith can be wonderful encouragers, of course, no one can encourage more effectively than the believer filled with the Spirit.

When we make sharing encouraging words a habit, it’s easier to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (I Peter 3:15 NIV). What kinds of words can we use to encourage others? Words that heal, words that help, and words from the heart.

Every time you listen to a friend’s grief over a marriage that is failing, the loss of a spouse, or a child that is sick you have a chance to encourage the oppressed (Isaiah 1:17) with words that heal. Just saying “I’m sorry” can penetrate the despair your friend is feeling. So can the words “I love you,” spoken over and over, and “I’ll always be here for you.” Words that heal.

Speaking words that help may be a habit that you aren’t even aware you have. When you offer to clean house for a sick neighbor, cook a meal, pick up the kids or baby sit, you are offering words that help. Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching we read in Hebrews 10:25. You do that when you offer words that help make life easier for others.Hyacinths in the Snow

The most encouraging words of all are words spoken from the heart. Those words the Spirit leads you to spontaneously share with people you know, and even with strangers.

Speaker and author Sandra Aldrich tells a wonderful story about some encouraging words she received when she was faced with adapting to single parenthood after her husband’s death. Still grieving for her husband, she decided to take a trip with her two children to give them all a diversion. But it didn’t go well. Her son was always running off, and her daughter shadowed her so closely she almost tripped over her at every turn. Finally getting her son in tow, she was standing in line with both kids at a restaurant wondering how she was ever going to manage as a single mother.

Just then an elderly, Spanish-speaking woman who had been observing Sandra and her children for awhile passed by them. Reaching out, she patted Sandra on the arm and in her halting English said, “You good mamma.” That’s all she said. “You good mamma.” And then she was gone.

Those few words of encouragement, spoken from the heart of one mother to another, sustained Sandra through her years of single parenthood and made such an impression on her that she included the story in a speech many years later.

Words that heal, words that help, and words from the heart. Sharing them with others is a habit worthy of the new year.


  1. Ruth Axtell says:

    Sharing healing words usually come best from someone who has been through the trials that you are experiencing.

    • I agree, Ruth. As long as it’s done gently. Everyone’s experience is different. But I definitely believe in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Hugs.

  2. It is difficult for people to just say thank you and go forward for a kind deed they received from another. Often times they want to put a dollar figure on something. We need to remember to receive and to give with the heart and the mercy of God’s grace encircling our lives.

  3. Nancy,
    Beautifully expressed as always.

    I’m a Patrick Morley fan and among my all-time favorite quotes is this one from him: “Encouragement is food for the heart, and every heart is a hungry heart.”

  4. Eileen Somers says:

    Thanks for the reminder of how easy it can be to lift the world’s spirit one person at a time, an encouraging word, a smile, a hug.

  5. Pat Scott says:

    Like everyone else, I have had some difficult times in my lifetime. It is amazing how comforting it is just to hear someone say, “I’m sorry you are having to deal with this. Please tell me how I can help.” Compassion is a wonderful gift, and it doesn’t have to cost a dime.

  6. Dee Simon says:

    Snowy photos are encouraging. I have concern for our ski areas and the moisture needed when fire season approaches.
    Thanks for the reminder to keep our senses open to those not voicing the need of encouragement.

  7. Elizabeth Van Liere says:

    If there’s anyone who sends encouraging words, it’s you, Nancy. Once again, thank you.

  8. alice ferguson-meyer says:

    So true, so easy…and yet we forget! Thank you for dogmas that are down to earth; that come form heaven’s heart through Nancy’s pen!

  9. Oh, Nancy, thank you for this helpful encouragement for our words and interactions. You good woman. You good writer. You good friend.

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