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September 30, 1990

Lifting the Load

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An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. PROVERBS 12:25
There is nothing quite so crippling as depression brought on by fear and anxiety. We’ve all at one time or another carried a burden so heavy we felt physically weighed down. Every trouble seems magnified through the lens of anxiety, and at times the situation seems completely hopeless. Despair is not far away.
If we’re not going through this kind of experience, we often don’t want to be reminded of it by those who are, lest it affect our own good spirits. If we’re in charge of a number of employees, we may become concerned that one person’s black mood will bring everyone else down, lessening enthusiasm and productivity. So we may isolate that person or suggest he or she take some personal time to deal with those personal issues.
But if we ignore anxiety or try to insulate ourselves from it, we’re missing an incredible opportunity for good and may even increase a person’s sense of loneliness and devastation. We may mean well, but our callousness could be interpreted as rejection.
Instead, we should turn on our emotional sensors and try to tune in to a person’s inner state. This comes more naturally to some people than to others, but it’s something everyone can—and should—strive for. What’s bothering the anxious person the most? What is the heaviest burden she is carrying? How can we help to ease it, even lift it completely? The writer of Proverbs says it takes just one word. If we communicate an expression of kindness, encouragement, or insight, we can make a tremendous impact and help bring a person’s circumstances back into the proper perspective.
“Would you like to talk?” “What can I do to help?” “How can we address this together?” “Let’s pray about it.” Our goal should be to help create hope and confidence in place of fear and anxiety. Words are powerful instruments, and if used with care and precision, we can turn depression into rejoicing.
How many kind words have you said this week?

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