April 14, 2020
By Rev. Maria Szabo Berces
Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,
Today’s Our Daily Bread devotion – see below – brought up a sensitive, yet timely issue to me. Namely, how can we stay kind, patient and gracious to one another when all of our nerves are stretched due to the circumstances of the Pandemic?
This morning I attended a ZOOM workshop on crisis pastoral care. There are hosts of worries and challenges that most of the people face in these times.
There is grief in the air. Many grieve the loss of loved ones; others the loss of financial security, the restriction of valued in-person connections, cancelled celebrations. The uncertainty around what comes next and when, may cause us to feel out of control. And let’s admit, we don’t like that feeling. Stress may worsen mental health issues, and domestic abuse from which now it is even harder to escape.
But we don’t have to have serious issues or challenges to notice this tension. Even smaller inconveniences can trigger a response from our part that we aren’t proud of. In these conditions, I valued to read the reminder from the Proverbs: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
I believe that we have to ground ourselves in God’s love in order to be able to provide those “gracious words” to our family or co-workers, despite of all the stress that is present in our world.
How? We need to find quiet space and time to be filled with the peace and the loving care the Almighty is offering to us.
And we need to go back to the Source of Life when we feel we failed, or we feel that we should have done better. In that Holy Presence we find forgiveness and more strength to carry on. Moreover, we may gain patience, wisdom and love to heal others with our “gracious words” and acts.
God may grant us the ability to spread those gracious, healing words in our environment. Grace and Peace to You All,
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
A recent study has shown that encouraging words from a health-care provider can help patients recuperate faster from their ailments. A simple experiment exposed volunteer study participants to a skin allergen to make them itch and then compared the reactions between those who received assurance from their physician and those who didn’t. Patients who received encouragement from their doctors had less discomfort and itching than their counterparts.
The writer of Proverbs knew how important encouraging words are. “Gracious words” bring “healing to the bones,” he wrote (Proverbs 16:24). The positive effect of words isn’t limited to our health: when we heed the wisdom of instruction, we’re also more likely to prosper in our efforts (v. 20). So too encouragement buoys us for the challenges we face now and may encounter in the future.
We may not yet fully understand why or even how much wisdom and encouragement bring strength and healing to our daily lives. Yet the cheers and guidance of our parents, coaches, and colleagues seem to help us endure difficulty and steer us toward success. Similarly, the Bible brings us encouragement when we face trials, equipping us to bear up under even the most unthinkable circumstances. Help us, God, to be strengthened by Your wisdom and to, in turn, offer the healing and hope of “gracious words” to those You’ve placed in our lives. – By Kirsten Holmberg
REFLECT & PRAY
Dear Father, thank You for Your words of healing and hope. Amen.
Who has spoken “gracious words” into your life? Why is it vital for you to share words of encouragement with others?
In Proverbs 16 we find two examples of Hebrew poetry. In verse 20, we see “synonymous parallelism,” in which the same idea is repeated using slightly different words. The key connector for the comparison is the word and. Verse 22 is an example of “antithetical parallelism,” a device that uses opposite ideas set in terms of contrast. Here the key connector for the contrast is the word but.
See if you can find other examples of these poetic devices in Proverbs 16. – By Bill Crowder