Do you know someone who is struggling through a trial right now? Do you want to help but you just feel powerless?
There are several people in my life who are struggling right now with physical trials. A sister-in-law recently diagnosed with breast cancer, a church family member fighting brain cancer, another suffering from debilitating back pain, and another friend fighting a mysterious auto-immune disease that is wreaking havoc on her body. And these are just a few of the ones I know.
Then there are those enduring emotional trials. A mother-in-law having to leave the home she’s known for 50 years to move into an assisted living facility because she can no longer live alone, family and friends who have recently lost loved ones through death or are watching them fade away with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and those with families imploding due to internal stress and strife.
It is enough to bring you to your knees. Which is right where we need to be. Ask for guidance in how to offer comfort to others: those who are in pain (whether physical or emotional), those who are facing debilitating and frightening illnesses, and those facing a myriad of other trials that come their way.
Below are a few ways we can offer encouragement and comfort:
- Visit them. Whether in person or by telephone, a personal visit will show them you care. I’m a big one on privacy, so if they tell me they want privacy, I respect it by not doing the drop-in visits until we both feel comfortable with it. But I can visit by phone, text, email, through family members, etc. until that time. It takes some people time to prepare mentally—so give them that time. But don’t wait too long—they need encouragement whether they realize it or not.
- Let them talk and listen. They are hurting. They are grieving. They are angry. They are scared. Whatever they are feeling, let them tell you about it. And listen. Just listen. Don’t judge. Don’t worry about “fixing” their problem. Don’t share your own troubles or, heaven forbid, tell them you understand what they are going through. Every relationship is different. Every person is different. Every situation is different. No one is going to suffer in the same way so there really is no comparison. Let it be about them.
- Encourage them. Find a way to encourage them. Send them cards, flowers, or cookies. Take them a gift to lift their spirits. Bring them things to make them laugh, such as videos or books. Help them take a break from life for a while. Do something that will help rejuvenate their spirit.
- Help them. Clean their house. Wash their car. Bring them dinner. Chances are they are overwhelmed right now so anything you do will help make them feel better.
- Pray for them and with them. Pray for them and tell them you are praying for them. And don’t just tell them you are praying for them, actually pray for them. Make it a part of your prayer list. If you don’t have a prayer list, start one. Also remember to pray with them. This may not be a comfortable action for you or them, but you will feel God’s presence and be glad you stepped out of your comfort zone. What better way to let people know you are praying for them than to actually pray with them?
- Remember them. Chances are whatever they are going through will last a while. Don’t just check on them for a few days and then move on. The death of a loved one takes a long time to get over. Some illnesses last a long time. They are still in need of encouragement and comfort. Continue to offer it. I make a habit of waiting a week or two before I send a sympathy card to someone who has lost a loved one because most people send cards and flowers at the time of the loss. Sending them a card a week or so later reminds them you know they’re still hurting. Remember to continue to visit and offer prayers during a lengthy illness. And don’t forget the caretakers—they need encouragement too.
These are just a few ways to offer encouragement and hope. Of course the greatest source of hope can be found in the Bible and here are a few Bible verses that offer comfort:
8 It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (AMP)
God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], A very present and well-proved help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (AMP)
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
The Lord is good, A strength and stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows [He recognizes, cares for, and understands fully] those who take refuge and trust in Him. Nahum 1:7 (AMP)
Do you know someone who needs encouragement today? Call them. Visit them. Pray for them. Love them. Not only will it bring comfort to them, it will bring comfort to you knowing you were able to share just a little of their burden for a while.