“Look at all these notes and cards!” she proclaimed.

My mother directed me to her living room. Every available table was covered with notes of sympathy for the loss of my father. Cards stood on side tables. The coffee table had cards piled in neat stacks, covering the entire surface. She picked up various cards, telling me about each person who sent it.

“And they keep coming,” she remarked.

I could relate, as I had a growing stack of my own at home. And each one meant the world to me. The fact that someone took the time to write a note expressing love for me and sorrow for my loss brought needed encouragement at a difficult time. They were like paper hugs, enveloping me in words of care from my brothers and sisters in Christ.

We live in a day and time where life is lived digitally more than ever before. We communicate primarily through apps, texts, and emails. Businesses increasingly send advertisements, bills, and communications via email than snail mail. Even birthday cards are now sent virtually.

This means, a handwritten note is a rare gift.

Power in a Handwritten Note

When I was a child, my mother gave my sister and I the yearly task of writing thank-you notes to all the relatives who sent us Christmas gifts. We not only had to thank the person for the present, but we had to provide updates on what was happening in our life—our interests, school progress, and activities. I remember the labor of it and the sacrifice of my play time to write them. But you know what? It meant a great deal to my relatives. And I still have notes I received in return from my great grandmother.

There’s great power in a handwritten note.

Certainly, it’s an encouragement to receive a letter from a friend. After all, you know they sacrificed time to write it. But even more than the time your friend invested, it’s the content of that note that holds great power for it speaks directly to your heart. As Proverbs notes, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (25:11). We know well the power of words; they are either life-giving or life-taking. They build up or tear down. They give joy or bring sorrow. When we speak words of grace at just the right time, we give life to one who suffers; we build up the one who is brought low. In both my mother’s and my recent experience, a word fitly written is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

I have two memo boards that hang on the wall above my desk. They are filled with thank you notes from readers and from ministries for whom I have spoken. I see them every time I sit at my desk to write, and I am reminded of the Body of Christ which prays for me. They serve as an ebenezer of sorts, of how God works through his church. They are a tangible source of encouragement to my heart.

Dear Sisters, never underestimate the power of the handwritten note to encourage someone else.

An Example from Paul’s Own Handwritten Letter

You might wonder, what would I say in a handwritten note? The New Testament is filled with letters after which we can model our own. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, he ministered to their hearts, reminding them of the joy found in Christ. Here are just a few elements to consider for your own notes:

  • Paul gave thanks for them: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:4-5). How can you write a note to a friend, encouraging her with your gratitude?
  • He expressed affection for them: “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:8). How can you express your godly affection for a friend?
  • He told them how prayed for them: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-11). How could you encourage your friend with a handwritten prayer?
  • He shared what was going on in his own life and the Lord’s work in and through him. “…for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:19-20). How can you share your own life with your friend—your own need for the gospel and God’s provision of grace for you?
  • Paul encouraged them with truth: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20-21). How can you point your sister to the gospel in your note, reminding her of what Christ has done for her?
  • He ended his letter with a blessing: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Phil. 4:23). How can you bless your sister with a reminder of the God who is at work in her?

Consider today, to whom can you send a note of encouragement? “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Prov. 16:24).

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

Christina Fox

Christina received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She is the content editor for enCourage and the author of several books, including A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish, Idols of a Mother’s Heart,  Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms , A Holy Fear: Trading Lesser Fears for the Fear of the LordTell God How You Feel, and Like Our Father: How God Parents Us and Why that Matters for Our Parenting. She prefers her coffee black and from a French press, enjoys antiquing, hiking, traveling, and reading. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two boys where she serves in women’s ministry at East Cobb PCA. You can find her at, @christinarfox and on Facebook.