Engaging with Those Who Are Suffering

By Jason McConahy,

Over the past few weeks, in our study through Job, we have been talking about the tendency for those who suffer to feel isolated. This is due, in part, to the discomfort and mess that suffering brings, which keeps many well-intentioned friends from effectively loving those in need. Instead, we can avoid the discomfort by remaining aloof from those who are in the midst of suffering, or we can try to provide quick-fixes and advice without entering into and sharing in their pain (involvement without empathy), or we can just lack the kind of perseverance needed to come alongside someone whose suffering doesn’t go away. 

Here are some helpful and practical suggestions for ways we can come alongside those who are suffering. These are from a lady in the church body who has suffered through health challenges for nearly a decade.  

  • Don’t try to “fix” the situation. God may have them there a long time.
  • Wash them with the Word - remind them of truth. Share what God is teaching you.
  • STOP! Take time to listen.
  • STOP! Take time to pray on the spot.
  • Pray first, then ask considerate, caring questions, seeking to understand their circumstances.
  • Be willing to walk through the discomfort of processing the ups and downs. (You don’t have to provide answers, just listen).
  • Don’t judge - you don’t know God's purposes and what He is truly doing in their circumstances.
  • Be prepared for a long haul - small touches mean A LOT. (i.e. text, phone call, card with verses, email, etc…)
  • Consider what would speak love and support beyond physical service…TIME spent!
  • Don’t get sucked into the prosperity gospel. Job was righteous but God still let Satan test him. John the Baptist and Paul’s lives ended badly but the end of this life is not the end.
  • Be a patient listener.
  • Reiterate your love for them because when the darkness surrounds you, you feel isolated and unlovable.
  • Repeat God’s promises and truth frequently.
  • If possible, laugh with them.
  • Be willing to trust God to teach you how to walk through the darkness with them.

Listen to the sermon series through the book of Job:

Holy Week: The Impending Darkness

By Aaron LeDuc,

(This post is part of our blog series on Holy Week in preparation for Easter 2015.  Click here to find additional posts from this series.)

We’ve been walking through the events of Holy Week and I hope it’s led you into deeper praise of God for His work of redemption.  Thursday began with preparation for the passover and ends in the anguished prayers of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Spend some time reading the accounts of Thursday in Matthew 26:17-46, Mark 14:12-42, Luke 22:7-46 and John 13:1-17:26.

Spend some time now reading the accounts in Matthew, Mark or Luke to understand the events.  The passage in John will surely show you the great love and provision of Christ for you; John’s account gives more detail as to what took place in the upper room, but less of the narrative that’s provided in the synoptic gospels.

Notice the speed with which things fell apart for the disciples.  One moment they were gathered in worship with Jesus, the redeemer of their souls and the hope of their hearts, and no more than a few hours later He is captive in the hands of the Sanhedrin.  In less than 24 hours He will be dead, and it will seem to them as if the last three years of their lives with Jesus were utterly wasted.  Surely they had some idea of what was coming; it’s not as though Jesus didn’t give them any warning of his coming suffering (see Mark 8:31-33, 9:30-32, 10:32-34, and parallel passages in Matthew and Luke).  Surely they knew that Jesus would die.  But it all happened so quickly!  They’re barely given a chance to process what’s happening all around them before Jesus is gone and they’re fleeing in fear.  

How many times in your life have you felt like the darkness of this world is pressing in on you? The impending cloud of darkness can seem all encompassing and unstoppable.  Yet, as followers of Christ, we stand in a long line of those who stand resolutely in the midst of this darkness and proclaim The Light.  As followers of Christ we ARE the light of the world, and we are possessors of the one true hope.  We don’t hold out this hope in our own strength, but in humbly recognizing and proclaiming that in the power of the Holy Spirit we have been given grace upon grace. 

This is part of the reason that Jesus tells His disciples (and us) that it’s better for us that He go, so that He could send The Spirit to us (John 16:7).  Reflect on this wonderful truth: even if Jesus were physically with you right now, it would not be as good for you as it is already being filled with the Holy Spirit.  We can be so prone to forget the incredible blessing we’ve been given in the indwelling Spirit of God.  Remember, beloved of Jesus, that the victory is already won!  When all the darkness presses in and all seems hopeless, I hope you will hear a sweet reminder of The Spirit and and echo of the words of Christ to a scared man who has lost all hope, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36 ESV).