Some of the greatest success stories of history have followed a word of encouragement from a loved one or a trusting friend. Had it not been for a confident and encouraging wife, Sophia, we might not have listed among the great names of literature the name of Nathaniel Hawthorne. When Nathaniel, a heartbroken man, went home to tell his wife he was a failure and had been fired from his job in a customhouse, she surprised him with an exclamation of joy.

“Now,” she said triumphantly, “you can write your book!”

“Yes,” replied the man, with sagging confidence, “and what shall we live on while I am writing it?”

To his amazement, she opened a drawer and pulled out a substantial sum of money.

“Where on earth did you get that?” he exclaimed.

“I have always known you were a man of genius,” she told him. “I knew that someday you would write a masterpiece. So every week, out of the money you gave me for housekeeping, I saved a little bit. So here is enough to last us for one whole year.”

From her trust and confidence came one of the greatest novels of American literature, The Scarlet Letter.1

When most people who’ve achieved great things tell their stories, they mention those who encouraged them along the way. Many of the great musical composers at one time or another were ready to quit, but someone stepped in and said, “No, you can’t quit!” Many of the great writers submitted hundreds of manuscripts before they were ever published; they would have given up if someone hadn’t come along and said, “No, I believe in you. Keep writing. You can do it.” Many great athletes would have given up on themselves, but there was somebody who wouldn’t allow it. When these folks tell their stories, they all talk about the person who kept them going, the one who wouldn’t let them quit, the one who spoke a word of encouragement at exactly the right moment.

David Jeremiah, The Power of Encouragement (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1997), 82–86.

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