As a greeting card writer and counselor in training, I often get asked, “What do I say when someone is hurting?” I don’t think there are any easy answers to that question. But there are a few guidelines you can follow. I’m going to share those with you over the next few months. The first one is…
The primary thing someone needs from you when they’re hurting is simply an acknowledgement of what they’re feeling.
Especially as Christians, we can tend to minimize the hurt by saying things like, “You’ll see them in heaven one day!” While those statements are true, they can be like rubbing salt in an open wound. Even Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus with those who were hurting.
I was part of a Grief Support group at my church this summer. My amazing leader, Jan Stockdale, recently shared something that made me even more aware of how sensitive we need to be.
Jan said, “A question that’s often asked by caring people is, ‘How are you doing?’ Grieving people can be offended by that question because they can’t imagine how people could think of them as being okay. Or they think people really don’t want to know the answer but feel they have to ask the question. So I encourage people to ask open-ended questions that show they really care and want to hear more than a one-word answer.”
I think Jan’s insight points out something important—there is no “one size fits all” to grief or hurt. If we’re asking the same questions we always ask, or saying the same things we always say, then we’re probably not showing as much sensitivity as we could.
Jesus came for everyone, but He also ministered to each person with special care. We can reflect Him by doing the same. This may require extra time, energy, and discomfort on our part but it will make a difference.
What you’re going through
is important to me and to the Lord.
That’s why I’m asking Him
to take extra-special care of you—
to wrap His arms around you
and hold you close,
to give you strength for today
and hope for tomorrow.
I’ll keep praying for you
throughout this difficult time,
because I want the very best for you,
and I know that’s just
what the Lord will give you.
The Lord longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
ISAIAH 30:18 NIV