Words make worlds.
Because they do, we had better be certain that we are listening to the right ones. That’s particularly difficult, though, in a day and time when words are so cheap. In a culture of political spin, of social media catch phrases, and of quick hot take reactions, many if not most of our words fall to the ground.
In fact, sometimes all the words around us come together in a symphony of noise, adding to our sadness, our anxiety, or our doubt. It’s in that storm of sound that we need a good word – one that cuts through the noise. One that can help us take another step forward. One that will center our minds and hearts to what really matters.
And the gospel gives us those words. For me, it has been helpful to think of these good words as phrases, laiden with gospel truth, that quiet my heart and soul. Here are three examples of phrases like this that, during the storm, are good things to say to your soul. They aren’t long – just short, simple reminders to speak to yourself and keep you moving forward.
1. It is finished.
Here is the most basic and most important phrase for both you and I. These words, spoken by Jesus on the cross, are a reminder to us that the battle for our souls, and for good, has been won. So much of life is spent trying to prove and validate our own existence to someone else – to a boss, to an earthly father, to the popular kids (even when you’re 38 years old) – it helps to remind yourself that there is, eternally, nothing left for us to prove. Jesus has done the work, and His good work is finished.
2. God’s Word is true.
The very first sin was rooted in doubt about the truth and faithfulness of God’s Word. Likewise, our temptations can all be boiled down to the phrase, “Did God really say…” God’s Word has promises for us as believers – promises of God’s faithfulness, of His love, of His provision, or His commitment to justice. So when we feel a measure of anxiety about tomorrow, or when we wonder if anyone is really in control in an out of control world, or when our own feelings move us toward rebellion, we say this to ourselves. God’s Word is true, and we can stake our souls on it.
3. I am God’s child.
At some point, each one of us is going to walk through some kind of personal crisis that shakes us to the core. And at that moment, one of the core-shaking questions will be about our personal identity. When we lose a job, or lose a relationships, or lose that one thing that we have used to define ourselves, there will be a gaping hole left. Who are we without this role? Without this person? Without this recognition? This phrase answers the question. That no matter where we work, what our income balance is, or where we live, we are the children of God.
4. Jesus knows.
It is a mistake, I think, to use the phrase, “I know how you feel.” We might mean well when we say it, but it is, at best, a well-intentioned half truth. We might have an inkling about the pain, loss, joy, or whatever someone else is walking through, but we don’t really know how they feel. Not exactly. Not completely. But Jesus does. He in fact knows how we feel at a deeper level than we do. So when you feel alone, and when you are aware that no one truly does understand, this is a phrase that reminds us that one does. He knows. And He cares.
I don’t mean to simplify the complexities of the situations that you are walking through today. Each one is different. But the complexities of life do not negate the truthfulness of the gospel. And even in seasons of distress, grief, and confusion, we can come back to these central truths. That it is finished. That we can trust God’s Word. That we are God’s children, and that Jesus truly does know.