Reach those spots with a comforting touch and word, and you’ll be a true help.
Your own pain
But to do that well, to equip others to handle pain, you need a proper perspective of your own pain.
- Where do you find comfort when you’re hurting?
- How do you interpret 2 Cor 1:3-4 about God as the Father of compassion and the God of ALL comfort?
- What purposes do you see in pain?
Tough issues. No one has them down pat. But best to have wrestled with them already if you’re helping another with them.
The women at the cross are great examples. They didn’t desert Jesus when things turned ugly. They couldn’t “fix” the situation, but they could stay there. And on the first day of the week, they showed up again. Just “being there” often communicates a love beyond words.
Learn the tender spots of your friend’s pain. Watch and listen to find out what helps them and what hurts worse. Get informed.
Don’t give a lecture, but do say something when appropriate. You can keep it simple: “I care about you.” “I’m praying for you.”
Give a hug. Cry with her. Send cards. Remember special days when the pain hits anew (i.e. Mother’s Day, birthdays). Show confidence in her. Bring meals. Clean her house. Share scriptures. Call with encouraging words. Make short visits. Stay with the friendship for the long-term.
Don’t do this
Susan asked women what was hurtful from others in their times of suffering, and received these replies:
- Telling a mother after a miscarriage that she can try again.
- Visiting for long periods of time.
- Saying nothing at all.
- Telling her that it was her own fault.
But don’t become an enabler. The goal is for your friend to heal by relying on the Lord, not on you. Watch for signs of an unhealthy dependence on you, and encourage her with skills to transfer the dependence on the One who not just helps, but heals.
Good for everybody
Bringing comfort to others is a big responsibility. It’s not easy nor fun. If you’re serious about helping someone through their pain, expect to feel some pain yourself.
But don’t shy away from comforting others because of your own fears of “not doing it right” or because of your own discomfort with the pain. “Hurting times are prime times to encourage and equip a younger woman to glorify God.” It’s also a prime time for YOU to glorify God and increase your own dependence on him.
Expand your capacity to comfort others, and not only will you be a blessing to your friend, but you will grow yourself in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Summary of previous chapters
Next week, last chapter:
Ch 12, “Staying…And Separating”