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:

Loving and Longing

By Aaron LeDuc,

Do you dread Valentine’s Day?  Do you wonder if you’ll ever have a satisfaction for the deep longing for love that you feel?  I have some bad news for you.

Then I have some good news, so dont worry.

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Heres the bad news: that longing that you feel will never go away.  There’s a sense in which every human has to be resigned to living this life with an entrenched, deep down, ravenous desire to be loved.  The second that Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden the hunger pangs began, and they won’t go away no matter how hard we try to quell them with flowers, chocolate, romance, entertainment, jewelry, sex, or anything else.  When Adam and Eve were cast out they were not only disconnected physically from the presence of God, but they were disconnected spiritually and emotionally from Him as well.  They were, and we are, disconsolate apart from our Creator.

It won’t go away because what was really meant to satiate you can only be found in one place; God Himself.   The only way to have your deepest longings met is in reconciliation to a Holy God.

And though we live in this in-between state of the already and the not yet, followers of Jesus are truly the only people that can have any semblance of rest from this.  We’ve not yet fully received the hope of our hearts, being face to face with our Great Savior, but we have the promise of eternal satisfaction and the seal of the Holy Spirit to guarantee our inheritance.  We can be so quick to underestimate the great depth to which Jesus can satisfy us in this life, and yet there is far more to come.   

If youre dreading Valentines Day as a single person this year, my hope for you is that you wouldnt try to meet your longings with the unrequited love of man.  I hope, instead, that youd remember the great love that God has shown you through His Son, and youd pour yourself out into His mission of disciple-making, and showing charity and mercy to those in need.  You can rest in the sovereignty of God; He knows your ache, hefelt your ache (Heb. 4:15), and He doesnt want you to waste one second of your breath on lesser loves than His.

For those of us that are married, we’d do good to remember the warning of Paul against marriage in 1 Cor. 7; warning us not to fix our devotion on our spouse, but instead be wholly devoted to God.  Love for others necessarily flows from our love for God, and married relationships are no different.  Cherish your spouse as a great gift from the Giver of All and let that precious thought lead you to worship Him.  But donjust do this on Valentines Day because its the obligatory Hallmark recommendation, make a practice of it in your everyday to fuel your praise of the King.