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How We Can Help the Hurting
by Dan Langerock
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How We Can Help the Hurting
by Dan Langerock

Jesus healed many people in His ministry of roughly three years. However, there was one instance when he asked the person "Do you want to be healed?" It is found in John 5:1-8. The man had been sick for many years, and instead of replying "Yes" right away to Jesus' question, made excuses instead.

1. After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes.
3. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.
5. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
6. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?"
7. The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me."
8. Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk."
9. And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath. (RSV)

This also happens in our own society. Let's look at a few reasons together:

Used to Get Attention

Have you ever been around someone who, instead of conversing in a normal manner, relates all their symptoms for the whole conversation? Their ailment has become their world, and they have a hard time talking about anything else. This tends to drive others away who might want to be friends with them. Another way this happens is the person who tells complete strangers their life story. In this instance, their pain has become an attention-getting device. Perhaps they have a hard time starting a regular conversation so they use this means instead. They are probably genuinely ill, but have let the illness monopolize their conversations..Loneliness can be another part of this person's behavior.

In a Trap

This person feels imprisoned by their pain or whatever is going on in their lives. They don't see any way out, so they sink deeper into depression and hopelessness. Have you felt this way? It is a common thought pattern when we see circumstances crowding in on us and there is nowhere to go to escape. Sometimes this trap is of our own making and sometimes it is due to others meddling in our lives. A third reason is just happenstance. This was one of the problems the man mentioned above had. He had been there over thirty years and saw no means of escape.

Excuses Made

As humans, we tend to place the blame on everything else than what is really the truth until something or someone comes along, as Jesus did, to put those excuses into perspective. Sometimes we blame others for what has happened to us, denying the possibility that it is our fault and thereby delaying the healing process.

The man in our story had been there over thirty years. He could have arranged for some friends to help him get to the pool when it was stirred, but instead he made the excuse that he couldn't get there in time to be healed. His case fell into all three categories we have talked about today.

What You Can Do

Pray about what is happening in this person's life. Ask God to show you how to approach the problem and how He wants you to help. Just as Jesus used different approaches with each person he encountered, so can you. Be creative.

Begin by listening to the person, looking for clues how you can help them. Everyone is so busy nowadays, listening is rarity, so make it a point to listen with your heart not just your ears.

If you feel the person is lonely, be a friend. Don't let the person's problems burn you out, but be there for them to talk to and be constructive in what you say. You can tell from this how you must proceed from here.

If attention-getting is the problem, try to interest them in other activities, maybe something you are already doing on your own. Again, use creativity, as you search for the solutions to what is happening in their life.

Excuses can be maddening. Every time you bring up a solution, they may have an excuse why they cannot do it. Try to get them to talk about what happened at the beginning of their problem and search for clues there. Then, in a gentle way, point out what you have observed.

A person who is trapped may not want to be helped at first. They may not trust anyone, perhaps because they have accepted help before and been burned. Start out by trying to be friends with them, and progress from there. I also do this in the hospital setting as a chaplain. Trust comes slowly sometimes, but it will come.Look for alternatives. Ask what the person has already tried, then search out more options and help them get started with these. It is like homework, you can do the work for the person or you can be there to help when they are stuck. The latter way is the best.

If you see the depth of their problem is
serious, have them seek out professional help or get it for them with their permission. A person who is in this condition may feel powerless because they have not been allowed to make the choices in their life. That authority may have been taken away from them, so help them be enabled to do this for themselves again.

Remember what Galatians 6:2 states: "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." The law of Christ is love. If we don't love we cannot help anyone including ourselves. You cannot help someone on your own. You will become frustrated and burnt out if you try. But with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you can make a difference in their life. There are three parts to helping: listen to the person, listen to what God would have you do, then speak or act. God bless you as you seek out needs in Jesus' name.

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