How to Help Our Hurting Friends

“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop:
but a good word maketh it glad”

Proverbs 12:24

Author’s Note – I first published this post in May of this year, but with the Christmas and New Years holidays upon us, I thought it would be a good reminder.  For many people, these times of the year are very difficult due to the loss of loved ones.  Many people still struggle over Christmas and New Years even though their loved one passed away many years ago. Grief is often cyclical.  Maybe this post can help you to help those closest to you who may be hurting.  

Perhaps, you have had the occasion to be in the presence of one who is hurting deeply.  The kind of person whose pain is so great that it visibly weighs upon their countenance.  A stooping heart will lead to stooping shoulders.

file0001529921373Pain in this life is real.  I wish it were not.  Yet, while I know the reality of pain, I can often ignore it for a time.  That is, until I come face to face with pain and heartache in the lives of my friends and family.

It is then that I want desperately to help, but it is then that I so often recognize that I have absolutely no idea of how to help the.  I don’t know what to say.

Don’t Christians Have all the Answers?

This is the question that haunts us.”I thought the Bible had all the answers” we  think to ourselves.  Well, dear one, it does.  But that does not mean that all of the answers are already clear, or that we have found every answer to every problem.

Christians may be redeemed, but we are still human; and as humans, we have only limited knowledge in this life.  I think it is better that way.

 

How to Help

FIRST AIDER 7So, how do we help those in our family, our church, our circle who are hurting?  I don’t have all the answers, but let me share with you some of the things I have discovered.

 

  • Be there.  Don’t think you always have to say something.  Just be there.  I know it is uncomfortable.  Grief and pain are messy, but don’t bolt from the room and out of their lives.  Don’t hide from them when they need you most.  Just be there.Perhaps this was the greatest mistake made by Job’s friends.  They started out just sitting with him. They should have stopped there.
  • Speak Sparingly and Purposefully. Often we desire to fill uncomfortable silence with meaningless babble.  Unfortunately, meaningless babble may do more harm than good.  If you must speak, pray about the words you are about to say.  Make sure they are good words.Go back and read the verse at the beginning of this post.  It is good words that make a heavy heart glad, not just words themselves.  What are good words?
    • Words of comfort
    • Words of love
    • Words of hope
    • Words of friendship
  • Don’t Avoid Laughter, and Don’t Force it.  Your grieving friend doesn’t need a court jester, but the grieving heart needs to heal, and a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.Share a funny story, laugh at the humor in every day life.  They need it. I remember when my brother died, how good it felt to laugh.  I felt guilty at first, but I came to realize that the laughter helped.  It eased the pain, if only for a while.  Sometimes, a temporary relief from pain is a blessing, even if the pain returns.  For most hurting people, the pain always returns.  We can only hope that the frequency and intensity may recede over time.  Laughter helps.  If they can’t laugh, then even a smile helps.

    Again, I am not suggesting that you try out your new stand up comedy act in their presence, but don’t neglect to smile and laugh when it comes organically.

  • Pray for Them, and With Them.  For many of us, praying with someone is almost as awkward as knowing what to say at a funeral, but don’t worry.  As a Christian, we realize that prayer is our line to God.  The hurting person may not even know how to pray, or they may have lost the interest in prayer as it has been drowned by their hurt.  So pray for them.  Pray with them.
  • Do not Give Up.  Hurting people sometimes hurt people.  It is hard not to take it personally when someone we are trying to help lashes out.  It is wrong of them to do so.  They owe us an apology.  However, we ought to show them grace.  Bad behavior is never right, in their lives or in ours.Don’t abandon them.  Don’t let them sink into the mire.  Let them know you are there to offer a hand.  Helping to heal the hurt is a long process.  The deeper the hurt, the longer it can take.  Which leads me to the final point.
  • Don’t Judge.  I mean don’t decide how they should be handling this.  Don’t think, “They should be over this by now!”  You are not them, and their hurt is not yours.  None of us know how we would respond.  Even if we have been through a similar circumstance, that is no reason to judge the length of time it takes to heal.If you truly want to help a hurting friend or loved one heal, then it will take an investment in time.  But I beg you; don’t give up.  They need you.  I can speak as one who has been through a deep pain.  They need you.

 

Have you been through the valley of pain in your own life?  Are you there right now?  How did someone help you through it?  What kind of things helped, and what things didn’t?  If you found this article useful, then consider sharing it with someone you know today.  And leave a comment if you would like to.  You never know how someone else will be helped by your feedback.

 

 

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