Love - Five Things to Help Someone Who Is Hurting

It is natural and good for people to turn to the church for prayer and comfort. We are called upon to bear each other's burdens (Gal. 6:2) and mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:15). How can we do that in a way we know is encouraging and uplifting?

1) Be Aware

As Christians, we need the sensitivity that attunes us to the cares and needs of others. Sometimes the self-confident exterior masks a deeply sensitive and hurting heart. Many people will boldly let others know when they need help and prayer. Others are not so open. So, we need to be on alert for those whose cries for help are more muffled, even hidden.

2) Listen

Our minds naturally go to our own situations of pain and suffering when we hear someone else speak of theirs. It is tempting to interject with our story. If we do so we must wait until we have listened and given the other person plenty of opportunity to speak. Then, if we share our experience, it should be with the perspective of showing we understand, can relate, and care. It should never be with the angle of showing that our experience was so much worse than theirs. I've actually seen people respond to others sharing painful incidents with, "Oh, that's nothing. Let me tell you what happened to me." That doesn't comfort someone who just heard they have cancer, that their military spouse is being deployed, or a loved one passed away.

3) Ask

"I am so sorry to hear that. How are you doing now?"
"Do you know what you are going to do yet?"
"Is there anything we can do to help?"

There is no set list of questions to ask someone who is hurting, but these are a few examples. If we have been aware others' hurts and have listened to their story with interest and concern, appropriate questions to ask will come to us. Someone suffering and hurting generally does not need to be asked difficult or penetrating questions. Any "I told you so's" can usually wait until later. At the moment, they need someone identifying with their situation.

4) Help

There may not be much you can do right then, but asking will help determine that. Then, help in anyway you can. A person in great distress may not even be aware of their needs at the time. So, offer suggestions. Providing transportation, watching children, cleaning the house and doing laundry are a few things that almost anyone can use during a time of illness or crisis. During one of our family's stays at the hospital I was dreading coming home to a virtual forest in my front yard. But, I came home to someone having mowed the grass and someone else having fixed the gate to the fence.

5) Follow up

What often happens after the crisis or period of illness passes? We go back to our normal routines. But, the suffering often continue to suffer, especially after a painful injury or death of a loved one. It is important that we continue to show love and concern, for weeks, months, and sometimes, even years after suffering, especially after a crippling injury or death.

One year after friends of ours lost their eleven year old son someone at church asked them, "Are you still not over him? It's been a year." Thirty-six years after losing his son Benjamin Franklin wrote, "To this day I cannot think of (him) without a sigh." Healing may take a long time, so follow up.

This is not a set of rules; it is a list of suggestions to help us communicate the care to others they need during times of distress.

Warren is a family counselor, minister, teacher, and author. His first book, "Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and Other Gems from Proverbs," is a collection of essays or devotionals on 118 different proverbs. He is currently working on a second volume.

Warren maintains a website at His blog, Family Fountain, has frequent articles about family, Proverbs, and attitudes for healthy living. You can find it at

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Source: Ezine


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