A Discouraging Word

by Jan Silvious

The story is told that during the Boer War, at the siege of Ladysmith, a civilian was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment. The fortunes of the town and garrison were hanging in the balance. This civilian would go along the lines and speak discouraging words to the men on duty. He struck no blow for the enemy—not one. He was just a discourager, and at a critical time. The court martial judged it a crime to speak disheartening words in an hour like that.1 Unfortunately, discouragement—defined as dejection, low spirits, despondency, despair, or hopelessness—never affects only one person, but has a way of spreading its devastation like the Black Plague. And the infection is often transmitted orally—through the spoken word! How about you? What kind of words do you speak in times of crisis and stress? Do you look for positive things to say, or do you automatically assume the worst, and share it? When you feel down, does it just seem easier to tell others how hopeless you feel, or do you voice hope? When folks come around, can they count on an optimistic outlook from you, or a discouraging word? God has some encouraging words for us: #/“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” /#(Ps. 27:13-14). #/“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me...Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” /#(John 14:1, 27). Discouraging words only spread hopelessness in an already difficult situation. But God’s words are always light and life. To quote Him to others is to defuse discouragement and lift spirits.