Chaplain’s Corner: Vol IX

“The Power of Words”

The power of touch has always been a significant part of human relationships. It appears, however, that we’ve entered a season in which the three H’s (handshakes, hugs and high-fives) will need to recede at least for a while in our connections with those beyond our own families.

But it opens a new door; suddenly we have a fresh opportunity to discover the power of words. Words have the power to build up and tear down. We all have known this from experience. When you were a child, no one had the ability to make or break your day like one of your parents. All it took was a word.

Those who know us best have inside information. They know exactly the right words and when to lift an eyebrow in a certain manner to push our buttons.

But it is also wonderful to entrust your heart to someone. At those moments when we’ve made a fool of ourselves there’s nothing more healing than to hear, “I still believe in you” from a lover or a friend.

A few years ago I opened a meeting by asking those present to recall the most memorable comment they had ever received. I wasn’t prepared for the outpouring of emotion. Some broke down and wept. They had gone 10, 20, 30 years resolutely drawing strength from a single memorable word of blessing.

Human souls long to be blessed. We long to know someone truly knows us and our hopes, our fears, our secrets and still loves us. God loves us like that. And the Bible provides a paradigm by which we can receive his blessing on a regular basis.

Aaron, Israel’s first high priest was commanded to turn toward God’s people and speak these words: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

Think of the six gifts embodied in those three sentences:

  • God yearns to bless you-to provide for your needs.
  • God promises to keep you-to watch over you.
  • God will cause his face to shine upon you. In the ancient world, citizens had no higher hope than to look into the face of the King and to see a smile, an expression of welcome and acceptance.
  • God longs to be gracious to you-there is nothing you can do to make him love you more.
  • He will lift up his countenance upon you-to give you his full attention.
  • God promises you his peace-not the absence of chaos or trouble, but his own shalom that can see you through the darkest day.

These are God’s life-giving words and these are words by which we can bless others and by God’s grace transform all of their tomorrows for the better.


Ron Naylor, Chaplain