I write words. I read words. I love words. But words have hurt me more than anything else. Because words have hurt me, I fear words.
Some words bring life into a person like the words written in God’s Word or spoken from the mouth of those who edify. Other words are like a deadly poison, killing the spirit.
These words from an untamed tongue sometimes kill my spirit to the point it also affects my body. My body goes into a state of hyperventilation. Then comes the tingling and the numbness. The sense of no control. The feeling of dying.
When the physical effects wear off, I used to respond with self-pity (also known as pride). How could they say that about me? And to me? In a matter of minutes, it would turn into anger. Who do they think they are? And oh, how I hate them!
By God’s grace, I have learned to respond differently—a way which doesn’t produce sin. I’ve learned to turn my heart from despair to praise immediately instead of over a matter of weeks. I no longer replay the poisonous words over and over in my head. Rather, I listen to the God-exalting words of songs like He Will Hold Me Fast or Though You Slay Me, and I remember that I was that great and terrible person to whom Christ died for. I was God’s enemy.
Yet I still fear the possibility of such poisonous words coming to my ears once again from the mouth of my own enemies. Mostly, I fear these words will become more than words—a visible proof of their impact on me.
More than succumbing to my fears, however, I want to boldly live for the glory of God—to share in the sufferings of Christ. I want to be all-in for the sake of the gospel—even if that means dying. But how can a weak, fearful me do just that?
No one is throwing their fist at me. Not one person has made a mark. It’s just waves of sound that cause the offense. It cuts my heart but only in a figurative sense—not literally.
Thus, it’s hard to see how I could withstand a true beating when a mere word makes me recoil like a child. It’s enough to make me tremble before a single word comes and paralyze me when many do.
And so the questions arise: Am I willing to suffer (in a physical way)? And how will I not cave when I know it’s coming—or moreso, when it begins?
The beating from a club. The cut from a knife. Being burned at the stake or drowned in the deep. All will hurt more than words, and words have devastated me.
But one thing is sure, that my mouth has learned to praise the God who slays me for no reason which I can see—yet for an eternal weight of glory. Like sticks and stones, words will hurt me, but break me to the point of renouncing Christ, they will not do. He promises to hold me fast, and that he will do. A bruised heart or a bruised flesh. A body dead or alive. I will hold fast to the confession of my faith—that Jesus Christ is Lord. And he is worthy to suffer for.