Have you ever tried to cheer someone up, only to accidentally make them more upset? I’ve had times when I wanted to help someone who wasn’t doing well mentally or physically, but when I tried to say something, I felt like I only made the situation worse.
Proverbs 27:14 says, “If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.” It’s a funny proverb, but it reminds us that our good intentions can be taken the wrong way when we speak up in the wrong situation. It can be hard to know how to help someone who is hurting.
Job’s story in the Bible is a great example of how NOT to help a friend. Job went through tons of hard times: he lost his family, health, and wealth. For a while, his friends sat with him in silence. But when they spoke up, their bad advice and false accusations hurt Job even more. So how can we love and support others when we have no idea what to say?
(1) Be present. As the saying goes, “Actions can speak louder than words.” In the hardest times, just sitting with someone and listening to them reminds them they’re not alone. Jesus sits with us in our sorrow, and our presence with others can remind them of Jesus’s presence with them.
(2) Mourn with them. Don’t try to compare the situation or make it seem better than it is. In John 11, Jesus wept at the death of a friend, Lazarus, moments before He raised that friend back to life. Jesus didn’t skip over the sadness or mourning. Sadness and hardship are part of living in a world broken by sin (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), and we don’t have to be afraid or ashamed of feeling that sadness and hardship.
(3) Pray for them, and offer to pray with them. This can be a powerful reminder of God’s loving care toward us, especially when we are hurting, as well as an opportunity to process our feelings with God.
We live in a broken world, but through Jesus’s death and resurrection, God gives us hope and strength through hard times (John 16:33). He is with us in our suffering, and He will return to end all suffering and heal all brokenness forever. We can rest in this sure hope…and share it with others. • Abby Ciona
• Has anyone ever come alongside you during a hard time? What was it like?
• Consider spending some time in prayer, asking God who you could come alongside today.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 (NIV)