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Are you called to be an encourager?

A study by the American Heart Association (AHA) revealed that the spirituality helped people who experienced a stroke in recovering from their affliction.

The study involved 200 people from Italy who had experienced a stroke with mild to moderate symptoms. The researchers used a survey developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to determine the individuals level of spirituality as well as physical and psychological well-being.

But this survey had an interesting twist. Not only were the people who had the stroke asked the questions, but so were the people who provided the care.

According to AHA, one of the biggest problems encountered by stroke survivors and caregivers is depression and this can negatively impact a person’s recovery.

The survey found that stroke survivors who showed the highest levels of spirituality also reported the highest levels of physical improvement and as well psychological well-being.

Faith and hope made a difference.

But the same also held true for the caregivers. Those who reported the highest levels of spirituality showed the least amount of depression symptoms.

The report also revealed that a stroke survivor’s level of spirituality also had a positive impact on the caregiver, even if the caregiver was showing indications of depression. A person’s faith and hope rubs off on others.

This is interesting because in Proverbs we read about the positive impact that we can have on other people. Our words of faith can positively impact others:

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25 NKJV

The NKJV says that anxiety leads to depression. Other versions read that anxiety or worry can cause a person’s heart to be weighed down. The Hebrew word translated depression or weighed down is “yas-hen” and literally means to bow down and the word is used of people bowing down or prostrating themselves before a King or even God as they submit to a higher authority.

However, in this instance, the person is bowing down or submitting themselves to their anxiety. Anxiety is the god of their life. In other words, they have given up. They are depressed because they no longer have hope.

But you have the ability to change this, because a good word can make the person’s heart glad. Sometimes people need others to speak into their lives.

Our positive words of faith and encouragement make a difference. In his letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul wrote:

Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)

It’s interesting that Paul used the idea of building one another up with encouragement, because that is exactly what happened in a study that looked at how verbal encouragement increased a person’s ability to perform exercise.

In this study, a group of 28 people (12 men and 16 women) were divided into subgroups based on their level of fitness previously determined by testing.

They were then told to exercise on a treadmill and basically see how long they could go. The people were then given one of four levels of encouragement as they did the treadmill test. One group was given no encouragement and the other groups were given encouragement every 20 seconds or 60 seconds or 180 seconds.

This encouragement included phrases such as “Come on, push it,” “Good Job,” and “Excellent.”

The researchers concluded that verbal encouragements had a significant, not just significant, but a “profound” impact on how long a person could last on the treadmill. They reported:

“Our results clearly show that verbal encouragement intended to increase a person’s maximal effort has profound effects on performance.”

God has called you to be an encourager. The Lord wants you to speak words off faith and hope to others.

READ: Spirituality may lead to improved quality of life for stroke survivors, caregivers AND Encouragement boosts performance

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