You probably know the childhood slogan, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Well, that might have a truth in the physical sense, but it’s definitely not true in the emotional sense. Words do have meaning and have impact for many years to come. The power within a word or a group of words can injure as much as they are able to inspire, encourage and transform lives and societies. As King Solomon wrote in Book of Proverbs, “A word fitly spoken [a word spoken at the right time] is like apples of gold in settings [pictures or trays] of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
Author and pastor Charles Swindoll speaks to this in his book Simple Faith. Swindoll states, “Like Jell-O, concepts assume the mold of the words into which they are poured. Who has not been stabbed awake by the use of a particular word...or combination of words? Who has not found relief from a well-timed word spoken at the precise moment of need? Who has not been crushed beneath the weight of an ill-chosen word? And who has not gathered fresh courage because a word of hope penetrated the fog of self-doubt?”
Swindoll says, “The word WORD remains the most powerful of all four-letter words.” (emphasis mine) There is great power in using just the right word at the right time. As the wordsmith Mark Twain once wrote, “The difference between the right word and ‘almost the right word’ is like the difference between lightening and a lightening bug.”
Colors can fade.
Shorelines may erode.
Temples will crumble.
But as the proverb assures, “a word fitly spoken” endures. Words can transform. Words can heal hurting and broken hearts and spirits.
With all respect to Swindoll, I would also like to suggest that the word WORD may not be most powerful of all four-letter words, but for believers the word PRAY may be. PRAYER, using a group of words to engage, incite to action the greatest and most powerful force in all of the known universe and beyond. So, PRAY.
Pray for yourself, pray for your family, pray for your church, and pray for your local police officers.
Chaplain Keith Evans
Chaplain, Casper Police Department, Casper WY
Chaplain, Wyoming Medical Center, Casper WY
Author, The Chaplain Skillset Series