As children of God, one of our roles is to be peacemakers. We can be sources of healing, restoration, and reconciliation to others by sharing our faith and God’s love in practical ways.
What do you say to those who are hurting? Perhaps you know someone who has lost a job, experienced a miscarriage, has gotten divorced, moved away from family, or lost a loved one. What do you say? Sometimes we feel a loss of words when someone we love is going through something hard.
A few years ago shortly after the passing of my grandfather, I read a book called Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart. I wanted to be able to comfort my very special grandmother in this extremely hard time. More recently, with the unexpected passing of my father in law, the words in that book resonate with me in conversations with my husband and his family.
Do you remember the story of Job? Everything is taken from him and he feels like he has nothing left to live for. His friends didn’t help the situation as they offered bad advice and said things that minimized his pain.
And that is exactly it. In this book, the author describes how phrases like “God has a plan for everything,” “God’s will” and “God makes something good of everything” are not what a grieving person needs to hear. While yes, the bible does say these things, to the hurting person, this minimizes their pain.
How can you bring peace to others in time of hurt?
- Listen– Just listen. Hurting people need to release those emotions and having a helping ear can really be the best thing you can offer.
- Lose the fix it mentality– Some things cannot be fixed. When a loved one is lost, they can’t be brought back. You can’t fix death, and you can’t fix grief. What you can do is be there for that person. Pray for them and let God heal their hurting hearts.
- Pray for the right words– As I stated earlier, words that sound good can actually not be good at all. Ask God to give you the right words to say to the hurting person.
- Use the power of presence– Just be there. Sometimes there is no need to talk. Your presence itself can be a comfort. Just being present tells the hurting person that they are precious and loved.
- Let them cry on your shoulder and cry with them– Tears are cleansing and healing. It’s okay to cry with them and say “this sucks.” Emotional pain sucks. Instead of using words that try to rationalize what happen, it’s okay to admit that the hurt sucks.
- Validate their feelings- When a suffering person says “this hurts…I’m miserable…,” a simple “I know” can bring a source of comfort to the hurting person. Rather than trying to fix it or say “it could be worse,” the hurting find great comfort in knowing that their feelings have been heard.
- Never say “I know how you feel.“- Because you don’t. You know how you felt in a similar situation, but you can’t know how that person feels. You aren’t abandoning empathy here. There is a huge difference between saying “I know how you feel” vs “I was in a similar situation and I felt…”
- Avoid the “shoulds“- It may make sense to you that the suffering person “should” do something, but it is hard for a suffering person to just flip a switch and have a new attitude or take a specific action.
- Never say “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”– The worst part about this phrase is the “God won’t give you” part. God doesn’t cause the suffering. The fact that we live in a broken world is what causes the suffering. It also may make the suffering person question themselves, their faith, or make them feel like they are failing when the grief hurts so bad.
- Practical help– Prepare meals, watch their children, help them with household chores, run errands…ask them how you can help.
And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
There are so many awesome names to call our Father, and did you notice that they define His character? When we need advice or just to call out in prayer, He is our Counselor. When we need someone to lean on, He is our Mighty God. When we need a father, He is there to hold our hand. When we need some comfort, He is the Prince of Peace.
He is all these things ALL the time. Ask Him to infuse you with those characteristics when you are loving on a hurting person.
How do you love on the hurting?
Photo courtesy of Frame Angel from Freedigitalphotos.net
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