A Cheerful Word

People love Christmas because it's a cheerful time during the drab days of winter. We send "a word of good cheer" to our friends through Christmas cards or gifts. Hearts lift from a humdrum life to more pleasant thoughts and memories. A cheerful word, however, should not be just for holidays or celebrations. We need a lift whether our lives are lonely or light, boring or bright. Few refuse a cheerful word.

King Solomon, the wisest man, wrote: "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up" (Proverbs 12:25, NIV).

Not long ago, on a winter day, our madcap neighbor came barefooted to our door. She said, "I know you and your husband are people who pray. I've just tested positive for cancer. I would appreciate your prayers in the next few days."

"Let's pray now," I said. Taking her hand, I began to pray for healing and peace. She wiped away tears with the back of her hand and smiled as she thanked me. For her, prayer had been a cheerful word.

Paul cheered his traveling companions. In a terrible three-day storm, they were so busy throwing the cargo and tackle overboard that they had no time to prepare food. Paul said, "‘I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost . . . . For I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me'" (Acts 27:22, 26, NIV). Sometimes, saying, "It is going to be all right," is the most encouraging thing we can do.

In another terrible storm, Jesus' disciples feared for their lives. They battled the raging waves far into the night. During the early morning hours, "Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It's a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid'" (Matthew 14:25–27, NIV). Often, we cheer another by simply saying, "I'm here."

"I've learned," wrote a thirteen-year-old, "that if you want to cheer up yourself, you should try cheering up someone else."[1] The daily grind grinds slowly and fine. Most of us could use a lift of spirits, especially in the days of winter's bleak grip.

Who needs cheering? Many of our neighbors do--those near home or at work. Perhaps we can take a small gift, homemade cookies, a meal for a busy friend to pop in the microwave after work, or a photocopy of a comforting article to read. A cheerful word may be silently spoken.

A friend, who has suffered from a debilitating disease since he was eight, told me, "I try to start the day at our house with laughter. My wife gets down, seeing me in pain, but laughter lifts our spirits, makes the day go better, and cheers us up."

Our missionary family traveled a lot. When schedules were tight and tensions rose, Dad would stride out quickly ahead of the family. Mama would nudge me and whisper, "Watch now! He's going to do it." Then, sure enough, Dad would pretend to trip over a crack in the sidewalk, and catch himself just before the spill. (Dad had hoped to be a comedian at one time, so he had a wide repertoire of funny faces and ploys.) Although we knew exactly what would happen, Mama and I always chuckled. A cheerful act blesses, too.

Today, who among our acquaintances needs a cheerful word?



[1] H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Live and Learn and Pass It On (Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1991).