Proverbs 11:16–21 ‘Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves. A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.’ (vv17–18)

Words disguise as much as they reveal. Growing up, Miriam heard family friends comment on her pretty face. ‘Pretty’ encouraged her and her confidence grew. Slightly older, she heard comments about her ‘chubby body’, which challenged her self-esteem. She asked herself, ‘Is my body shape wrong?’

Words are communication tools, but why do we choose specific words? We’re suspicious of politicians’ speeches knowing they say one thing but leave room for alternative, and sometimes surprising, meanings. Once we lose trust in language, active communication is impossible.

Dr Ira Bycock cared for seriously ill people for 15 years, and a further 25 in palliative care. He identified four phrases, 11 words in total, which captured everything someone dying wanted to say. His message to all of us is, ‘Why wait until you’re about to die?’

Over the next four days we’ll explore these essential 11 words. We’ve all lived in Miriam’s world. We’ve developed shields to protect us at work, at home, even in church.

Indeed, it’s hard to know the degree to which we are being honest or wearing a mask in public. But alone we reflect on our disappointments, which easily give birth to criticism and lingering emotional wounds. 

We are not whole, but still broken whilst we alone have the power to manage our thoughts and the behaviours they provoke. And we are not alone because Jesus listens, hears and meets us in our woundedness, for He is the wounded healer.


Ps. 147:1–11; Joel 2:21–27; 2 Cor. 1:3–11 and 7:5–16


Do you choose words to wound? Practice choosing words that
encourage and bless others, whilst learning to wrap love
around essential words of truth. (Eph. 4:15)


‘Lord, season my speech with grace and may I learn to speak the truth in love. Amen.’

Photo by Rachel Strong on Unsplash
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.