In “What’s in a Name” from this series, I talked about how wounding nicknames can be, and how we need God to give us new names to give us hope. There was an outpouring of response from you readers. So many of you have been cut down by hurtful words. Praise God for the healing He offers us, that releases us from the grip of those labels!

This week my topic is how words can either wound or bless; crush or offer hope.

Throughout my life, I’ve received many comments—about my work, character, appearance, parenting—that have devastated my soul. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing. Those words dig deep, and replay in our minds for years to come, even if others may compliment us about the very same things! Experts say it takes 5-7 positive comments to counteract every 1 negative.

A few people have made hurtful comments about my writing over the years, but while I was still in school, two incidents put a dream in my heart that I would one day become a writer.

In sixth grade, I had a teacher named Miss Korvar (which I’ve probably misspelled). I adored her.   It was the 70’s, so she had bleached blonde hair, and wore brightly colored dresses and hoop earrings. She wore long fake eyelashes that invariably came loose when she got sentimental about a story as she read to us. One day before Christmas I gave her a card with the lyrics to a song I had written. After she read it, she started to cry. Blinking through her eyelashes, she said, “I will treasure this. You’re such a good writer, Beth.”

In that moment I saw the power of the written word at work. It could touch people’s hearts.

The second incident happened my junior year of high school. James Walker taught my Creative Writing class. Each week we’d hand in our journals for him to read and make comments. Over and over he said things that encouraged my efforts. But the defining moment was when he told us to write a children’s book. I wrote and illustrated Louie the Lemon (which I later published). He loved it so much he took it home to read to his five-year-old daughter. When he brought it back, he said, “She fell in love with Louie and now she wants lemons on everything! One day, Beth, you’re going to be a writer.”

I learned that words can influence people.

I’m sure you have stories too; of horrible words that shredded your heart, but also, I hope, some beautiful, life-giving words that nourished your soul. The most hope-filled words we can ever receive, however, can only come from God. He alone knows exactly what we need and exactly when we need it. Most often, He speaks to us through the Bible—His Word.

God created everything there is, with just words. He spoke, and our world and all living things came into being! When Genesis one tells about each day of creation, it says “God said…and it was so.” God has unlimited power and authority over all the universe!

Psalm 119—the longest chapter of the Bible—contains 176 verses! And a lot of them are in praise of God’s words. They are truth, life, hope, and they give us direction:

43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws… 49 Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope…

50 This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life. (NKJV)

74 May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word

81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word

114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word

116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed…

147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.

(emphasis mine)

Jesus, the Son of God, is also referred to as the Living Word. He was with God and actively involved in the creation process. And Jesus came in the form of a man to show as well as speak the Word of God:

John 1:1, 14: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So, whose words should we believe, letting them shape our self-concept and our future? People can be kind and supportive, but they can also be deceitful, manipulative, and cruel, even when they don’t mean to be. It’s nice when people say good things to us, but God is the only One who always tells us the truth we need to hear. He infuses us with hope, the courage to do what is right, and tenacity to face the toughest days.

There is power in what God says! Look to Him today and listen to His words. I promise you they will be just what you need.

Will we believe what others say? Or will we believe what God says about us?

Lauren Daigle’s, “You Say.”