“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Do you find yourself overwhelmed at times with the amount of bad news that you see every day when you log on to technology or turn on the television? I know that I do. Some days I find myself being glad that I was too busy to “check in”. Just this last week in our circle of friends we had the death of a child, 3 people with cancer, 2 sets of friends getting divorced, friends whose parents died, 2 miscarriages, and one loss of a job.
Truthfully, there are moments when I admit to being thankful that, this time, it wasn’t my family. Because heaven knows we have had our share of heartache and loss. But as quickly as relief comes, the feeling of empathy is close behind. I know far too well what is going on in the hearts and minds of those who are going through trials. My mind immediately starts to wonder just what I can do to help lighten the burden or soften the blow.
There are few things from my childhood that evoke good memories but one that stands out is watching my mother minister to those in need in our community. A meal, some clothes, a ride, a few dollars. It seemed that she always knew what to do, when to do it, and more importantly, how to do it. She taught me so much about seeking out those in need and responding to those needs quickly, quietly, and humbly.
I recently received a book to review called Alongside: A Practical Guide to Loving Your Neighbor in Their Time of Trial by Sarah Beckman. Sarah obviously has a heart for service. Her book compiles dozens of wonderful ideas about helping walk alongside someone who is struggling while walking in the valley. She uses real life stories to provide excellent go-to resources to lift the spirits of those who are suffering. Just as importantly, she gives wise advice about what NOT to do and what NOT to say. Because sadly, much pain can be caused by well-meaning attempts to help the hurting. I love how she constantly reminds the reader that “it’s not about you.” Oh how true this statement is.
One of the quotes Sarah has in the book that struck me profoundly was from Henri J. M. Nouwen’s book “Out of Solitude”. It say “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” It is so easy to get caught up in wanting to know why. But sometimes the best thing we can say is nothing even when we feel like we should be saying something.
I now find myself turning to Sarah’s book as I prayerfully consider what I can do for those who are hurting. I realize that it can be the simplest of things that can be powerful. A text, a card, a bag of jelly bellies dropped off at the door. (you will have to read the book for that story). Proverbs 3:5 is a great reminder in times like this. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. (NIV) It’s not about us. It’s about the needs of the person who is suffering.
Even when it seems that there is far too much heartache in our circle of friends we need only remember that, in all things, God is working. He gives us our experiences so that we can help others who find themselves in the same situation. Even if all we can do is pray, sometimes that is more than enough. Listen to the promptings of the Spirit and be His Light to those around you.
©2017MichelleWelch, team member of Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries
Alongside: A Practical Guide to Loving Your Neighbor in Their Time of Trial by Sarah Beckman is available from Amazon and all leading booksellers.
Published by Morgan James Publishing
Find Sarah on Facebook , Twitter, and Instagram
This book was provided to me by the Blythe Daniel Agency