PASTOR'S PEN: How can I help?
Lately I have been approached by several people with overwhelming situations in their lives. For some the issue is financial, “How will I pay for Christmas presents, winter coats, heat or medical bills?” For others it’s a medical issue, “Why am I so sick? Will this go away?” And for others it is the appearance of a dim and hopeless future, “I’ll never find a job. My family is falling apart. I’ll never make through this difficult time.”
When other people are going through the tragedies of their lives it’s easy for us to taut some short statement or phrase about trusting God. We then go on with our lives. Some are glad to forget about those troubles as if everything in the world is perfectly fine as is. Others try to help, but offer pat answers that can seem almost as degrading as not helping at all. But I think many are just as overwhelmed as the person going through the difficulty in their life. They don’t really know how they can help. What can you do when your friend is going through a difficult time?
- Be There and listen. The most comforting thing you can do many times is just say you are there for them and lend a listening ear. You don’t need to figure out a solution every time, but just let them know you care. You can even send a card, but keep it short letting them know you care and are praying and offer to help if you can. Avoid oversimplifying the issue.
- Pray. Pray for them and offer to pray with them. The first thing you should do when you hear of a traumatic event in someone’s life is to pray for them. Ask God to comfort them, provide wisdom and for God keep you willing to help. Then offer to pray with them. Most will accept that and allow you to pray with them. Keep it short letting them know you care. And don’t be offended if they refuse. Not everyone believes in God or may not be ready for that. You can still pray for them on your own.
- Be discreet. Someone going through a difficult time may open up to you as you listen. It’s not your job to spill their troubles onto everyone else. In other words, don’t gossip. Don’t assume you know what their thinking or what happened. Be gentle as they go through this difficult time.
- Help when possible. You may have opportunity to help. Do so kindly. Maybe it’s monetary help, watching kids, cooking food, fixing a roof or a host of other possibilities. As you pray and are there for them, God may show you how you can help even more.
1 Corinthians 12 talks about us being part of the body of Christ. When another Christ-follower is struggling, we should desire all the more to be there for them. Verse 26 says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” Then Paul also tells us in Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” He continues in Galatians to tell us, “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” So help out any in need, but especially fellow believers.
Do you know someone who is struggling? Be there. Pray. Be discreet. Help when possible. Then you will showing love the same way Christ showed love for us.