Some Thoughts On Loving Those Who Are Deeply Hurting…
On Loving Those
Who Are Deeply Hurting
1. Love them like the Biblical Job’s friends did at first—BEFORE they opened their big mouths (please click on verses to see Job 2:11-13 NLT). LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! Just be with them—practice the “ministry of presence” (click HERE for free video)(i.e. show those hurting that you care simply by being with them). “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 NLT). Jesus wept, so we are in GREAT company when we do so with others. Henri Nouwen also says it well:
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ―The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey
2. Let them know you are thinking of them (without expecting them to respond or acknowledge or thank your thoughtfulness)—consistent small random acts of kindness can make a huge impact oer time (simple notes left in mailbox that say I love you, flowers left on the front porch, a surprise treat from Starbucks, an email that simply says “I am so thankful to be friends with you,” etc.).
3. Try try try try try as hard as you can to NOT give advice/counsel or even Bible verses unless specifically asked, especially including but not limited to such well-intentioned but often unhelpful phrases like:
-“This too shall pass” (yes, but like an over-sized kidney stone!);
-“God will bring good out of this”;
-“Time heals all wounds”;
-“I know how you feel”/”This reminds me of something that happened to me once…”;
-“Everything will be ok”;
-“This will all make sense someday”; etc.
4. Pray for them privately/on your own whenever you think of them (these can be long prayers or even short “breath prayers” as you are going about your day). If you aren’t sure what to pray for, here are some humble suggestions:
-Pray for an immediate end to whatever is causing the pain (e.g. healing for a sick loved one);
-Pray that God helps you to be a faithful/true friend to them;
-Pray that God does eventually bring good out of their suffering;
-Pray that they don’t walk away from Jesus in their grief/confusion (but give them grace if they do!);
-Pray for many friends to come around them with the love of Jesus (so you are not alone);
-Pray that they cope with their pain in healthy, wise, God-honoring ways;
-Pray that God helps your friend & you not to feel guilty when you laugh/do an activity that’s silly/light-hearted.
5. Don’t be afraid/timid to ask them how they’re doing, but also don’t feel the need to always bring up their situation. Their suffering does not define who they are now, what their life has been or what their life will be.
6. Have at least one other person whom you can talk with privately to help YOU process through the pain/emotions of serving/loving someone who is hurting. Be careful not to gossip but instead focus on receiving prayer/encouragement/wisdom to prevent you from burning out yourself.
7. Go easy on yourself. Loving someone who is deeply hurting is a very difficult minefield to walk through, but Jesus is with you all the way through His Holy Spirit! If you put your foot in your mouth, apologize genuinely, wash it off, and get right back on the road being the hands and feet of Jesus in your friend’s life.