the unspoken blessing

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today …” –Hebrews 3:13

I saw it in their eyes last evening … a familiar pain. It’s one I’ve felt before. It always touches a nerve whenever I speak on it, especially those nerves deeply embedded in the heart and firmly rooted in remembrance. In sharing a bit of my own story, I quickly discerned that my strong emotion stirred up emotion in the ladies who’d gathered for our weekly Bible study. And instead of studying the Bible, we studied the God of Bible who comes alongside us in our woundedness, who dries our tears, and who speaks words of healing into those places where words have often gone undeclared.

Oh the ache of the unspoken blessing! Who of us hasn’t longed for a few words of eternal encouragement from an uncooperative candidate? It seems it would be easy to impart words of strength to those we love. Why then, do we so often keep them to ourselves? I think this is one of the resulting side-effects of never having received the blessings due us. The words we long to receive can often be the very words we refuse to give.

What tragedy … to forsake the blessing of others because we feel under-blessed. We are not under-blessed. We are the children of God, the over-blessed, the lavishly loved, and the richly endowed kids of the kingdom. When we live there, in God’s house of affirmation, the overflow of his love to us more easily overflows through us. Blessing others becomes our default rather than our reluctance.

Not so long ago, I wrote a few words about our words of blessing. Maybe you’ve read them; maybe you’re reading them for the first time. They seem an apt fit with today’s rumination, and so I release them to you again for your consideration:

“Our words mean a great deal to others and to us as well. Words released as flowers are words that carry us through our seasons of deepest darkness. They brighten our spirits. They lighten our loads. They keep us from lesser feelings—lesser attitudes—that, if not guarded, could quickly morph into lesser behaviors. Anger, bitterness, selfishness, waywardness, faithlessness, fear, pity, envy, and blame, are all possible, lesser products of the heart when words of kindness and encouragement aren’t extended as healing replacements.

Rarely is our neglect intentional; mostly we don’t think about our words as being an investment into the heart of another. But sometimes we forsake the “giving of flowers,” keeping our words to ourselves because it’s hard to speak them. The emotional toll that honest words require can be exhausting, raw, and exposing, thus the reason so many important conversations never take place between two hearts. Instead, we sometimes choose our silence because the contrast is too much of an honest look into our flawed and fragile hearts. Self-preservation over personal revelation becomes the order of the day. When that happens, hearts remain as they were—unchanged, unmoved, and uncolored by the witness of a flower or two given in the name of love.

Whatever our reasons for keeping our silence, we must understand that some lives will come to an earthly close without the blessed benedictions due them. Words of blessing are reserved for a funeral, when in reality, so many of them should have been spoken in advance. Words spoken at a funeral, flowers given then? Well, they’re likely to be forgotten, to decay over time, buried alongside the casket. But words of encouragement spoken into a heart before a heart moves home to heaven? Those are eternal words that never die. They blossom as a witness to generous grace and serve as a lasting memorial to the human spirit and to the God who puts eternity into the hearts of all humankind.”    (F. Elaine Olsen, on “Sending Flowers to the Living” from Beyond Cancer’s Scars , p. 124-125).

Maybe today you feel the ache of an unspoken blessing in your heart. Maybe today, you’re refusing someone else the privilege of hearing the words due them. Wherever you are in this story, my prayer is that you will allow the Father to move in to that place of woundedness and to restore to you what is rightfully yours. You are the apple of your Father’s eyes, and his love for you is without reserve or condition.

Live in his encouragement today and then, out of that overflow, live to encourage someone else. As always …

Peace for the journey,

If you’d like to secure a copy of Beyond The Scars or Peace for the Journey, click here to learn more. I greatly appreciate your support as I walk through this transition in my writing ministry.

19 Responses to the unspoken blessing

  1. Some of my greatest blessings have fallen on the heels of my greatest sorrows. I also know it is in that place, the place of deep pain, that I came to know God in a way I could not have in any other way. It is the story of Hagar on the run, or Job in despair, or Elijah in the cave. “Beauty for ashes …” ~ such a grace-laden trade.

    • Me too, Sassy. God’s great love for me has often been expressed/impressed to me in my times of greatest sorrow. How thankful I am for the his comfort and hope in those times. Where would we be without Jesus?

  2. This was a beautiful message. I must tell you about these two things that have recently happened. First of all, before he died, my father’s dementia had made him quite cantankerous. He became very difficult to deal with. But, in the last week of his life, when he was lying injured in the hospital, he and I both had a chance to say some very wonderful things to each other. I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to speak these *blessings* before it was too late. And secondly, a family member who had been away from the family for awhile attended my dad’s funeral. The opportunity for restoration of a relationship was another moment of grace from the Lord. She and I are now in contact, and plan to meet soon for lunch.

    I think it’s so important to remember to *give roses while you can* – we just never know when our chance to speak a word of blessing will disappear. Words of encouragement are seeds that grow rapidly, and they always return to the *sower* a hundredfold.


    • Exactly! Yes, everything you’ve written and more. Speak them today while today is still called today. Love you, friend. May God’s ministering peace rain down upon you as you walk through these mellow days of mourning.

  3. When we’re going through painful times, are hearts are exposed…raw. Words of encouragement and blessing are a spiritual salve – they soothe, heal, and bring us great comfort. That spiritual salve also softens hardened hearts – calloused from years of anger, pain, and resentment. When we feel as if life is pulling us under, encouraging words are a lifeline tossed our way.

    I certainly don’t want any blessed benedictions left unspoken. Praying that God will use me – every day – to bless and encourage others.

    This is a good word, Elaine! Love you, my friend…

  4. …or in the words of Paul, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

    Once again, your words are delivered with just the right amount of salt to stimulate AND satisfy my appetite. My prayer? “Make ME a blessing to someone today!”

    • Billy preached on being the salt of the earth this past week. What a valuable and timely word to my spirit!

  5. Praying I will be an encourager today. IT will be tough. Work is overwhelming and I am tired of the weight of this particular job and the stressors that will occur in this day. But I choose to be the encourager even though I would rather walk away. Yesterday evening our community lost a beautiful young lady. Though I did not know her personally, I knew of her. She literal live the short length of her life loudly and that motivates me to do more, be more so that I too can say I lived the “width of my days” well. I choose to strive to live loudly for our God, my faith that keeps me fuel for eternities embrace…

    • I like that – “width of my days”. I’ve had many in 2014 that have felt pretty wide. Praying God to keep us faithful in them all.

  6. I’m sure I have withheld blessing from others on occasion. My heart prayer is that my heart would be tendered toward those who need a blessing. The spoken blessing truly can change everything.

  7. Dear Elaine…such truth here as always. I think for myself, I often covet the flower extended. It’s hard to let go of the fragrant blessing sometimes because pride, envy,comparison etc.. are thorns that prick us in return if we don’t deliver the “rose” from a heart of sincerity and love. Whether it’s a small single bud or an entire bouquet, I long to speak blessings of encouragement and love, devoid of selfishness and expecting nothing in return. When I think of the field of blossoms the Lord has lavished on me, continual, unconditional, never-fading, refreshing my soul….oh Lord, make me faithful in choosing to speak words that would rest as a gift on a parched heart. Like a beautiful fragrant flower, may the aroma of Christ remain on the heart of both the giver and receiver attracting others to You.
    Love you my friend,
    PS. A sweet delivery arrived last night which I opened this morning. Words of blessing to share in the future with those who need His encouragement. Thank you Elaine…for your faithfulness…and for the personal gifts enclosed…gifts that speak of friendship and love. You are a treasured friend. HUGS

    • You always have a way of adding to my words with some of your own, Joy. Together, we paint a pretty picture, or bouquet as it would seem. Love you.

  8. Oh gosh. I’ve been so quiet lately I feel bit guilty. But life just hurts so badly sometimes, too badly to talk about it. I trust that though words are not currently flowing at present, one day they will and when they do they will indeed bless — in God’s time.
    Thanks again for a great word.

  9. One of my heart’s desires, Elaine, is to encourage others. In fact, I think it’s my main spiritual gift. Even so, I miss times of speaking blessing into the lives of those around me. I’ve noticed sometimes that happens because the other person isn’t really comfortable with receiving spoken love and blessings — and so I hold back at times so neither of us feels awkward. I need to risk the awkward. Thanks for the reminder.

    And now, my friend, may God continue to guide you and bless your writing ministry. You indeed are a blessing!

  10. Elaine,

    Your line: “when in reality, so many of them should have been spoken in advance” s so true. Thanks for that reminder to speak, sharng the words that can bless others, not waiting until it is to late, and regret creeps in.

    Have a lovely week, friend. It’s nice to be again.
    Jennifer Dougan

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