Words that Wound

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

 

“Skinny bones, skinny bones,” the boy taunted. “Stick,” another chimed. In return, I could have chanted “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But even as a little girl, I knew the popular rhyme wasn’t true. Unkind, thoughtless words did hurt—sometimes badly, leaving wounds that went deeper and lasted much longer than a welt from a stone or stick.

Hannah certainly knew the sting of thoughtless words. Her husband, Elkanah, loved her, but she had no children, while his second wife, Peninnah, had many. In a culture where a woman’s worth was often based on having children, Peninnah made Hannah’s pain worse by continually “provoking her” for being childless. She kept it up until Hannah wept and couldn’t eat (1 Samuel 1:6–7).

And Elkanah probably meant well, but his thoughtless response, “Hannah, why are you weeping? . . . Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (v. 8) was still hurtful.

Like Hannah, many of us have been left reeling in the wake of hurtful words. And some of us have likely reacted to our own wounds by lashing out and hurting others with our words. But all of us can run to our loving and compassionate God for strength and healing (Psalm 27:5, 12–14). He lovingly rejoices over us—speaking words of love and grace.

By Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

When have you been hurt by unkind words? What helped you to heal? Who needs to hear your grace-filled words?

Loving Father, thank You for the healing and hope we find in You! Help us to bring our hurts to You—and always to be mindful of the words we say. Give us the wisdom and patience to think before speaking.

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