Singing light songs to the heavyhearted is like pouring salt in their wounds. (Proverbs 25:20 The Message)
Have you ever been there? You are hurting and discouraged and someone comes along and tries to cheer you up. You know they mean well, but their insensitivity to where you are at makes it hurt all the more.
Most of us can remember what that is like – so the question comes – how do I comfort without hurting people even more. I found this quote once and it is probably true of most of us… “I would like to help. I really would. But I just don’t know what to say. I’m sure I say too much, and sometimes I think what I say hurts more than it helps. So, most of the time, I stay away and don’t do anything at all” (source unknown).
I am in almost daily contact with hurting people and most of you all know people that are hurting. The questions that always seem to come up are… How do I help and how do I give comfort? Let me first suggest to you what comforting is not, then ideas on what it might mean to be comforting.
Comforting is not having all the answers or being able to explain God’s will. Only God knows what is going on and the purpose for situations and suffering in our lives. As friends we can just remind them that God is on the throne and He knows. It is not about knowing the whys, but helping them walk through the pain (Isaiah 41:10, 43:2-3a). Comforting is not fixing the problem. Many of us are fixers, we want people to be all better and we want to get them better. Sometimes we fix it by trying to make people look on the positive side, or cheer them up. During times of pain and hurts, only time and God can truly heal the wounds. Our role is to listen, to allow them to cry, to help in ways that are practical which allow them to focus on their healing process (Psalm 147:3).
Comfort is making yourself available. As I already alluded to, the best things we can do for someone is be there (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Maybe it’s doing tasks that are now hard for them to do, possibly it is bringing in food, or helping to drive them places. Often times we help by just being present – even without saying a word (James 1:19; Job 16:2). Maybe you are a shoulder to lean on or a listening ear. We can listen with compassion and nurture.
In John 11 Jesus allowed Martha to express feelings regarding the death of her brother Lazarus (vs. 21-22). He gave Mary the same courtesy (v. 32). He was Jesus, He knew exactly what was going on and going to happen, but He allowed them the freedom to express their heart. David expressed his feelings and thoughts often through his Psalms (Psalm 27:6 & 9; Psalm 34:6).
Comfort is letting them experience their pain. A key factor in moving on through our difficulties is to face them head on. In many ways we need to encourage others to feel the hurt, pain, and sorrow that is in their life at that point in time (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). God has allowed it to happen for some reason, and in order for the pain to accomplish its work it is important for them to move with the pain, not away from the pain (Jeremiah 29:11-14).
Most of all… Turn to God for direction and POINT THEM TO CHRIST… Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 32:8, Psalm 55:22. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted, (Matthew 5:4). May you and I serve to be Christ-like comforters not salt pourers…
Writer for “Real Victory for Real Life” 365 Devotional Thoughts in the Spirit of America’s Keswick VOLUME 2 To order a copy of “REAL VICTORY For REAL LIFE” 365 Devotional Thoughts in the Spirit of America’s Keswick, forwarded by Dr. Joseph Stowell visit www.americaskeswick.org and click on store.