Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Elephant in the Room (12/05/13)
TITLE: Beautiful Love ~ Ministering To Those In Pain
By Rachel Malcolm
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Only the night before, I'd suffered through a miscarriage. I had cherished that life growing within me, and now, my little one was gone.
It was in those days, weeks, and months following my miscarriage that I experienced God's beautiful love through the hands of His people. During that time, I also learned how raw and fragile the hurting are. God has used that experience to soften me and teach me how to better serve those who are suffering. It is my prayer that others will also be blessed by the lessons I learned in the refiner's fire.
Some of the best words are a simple, “I'm sorry for your loss.” In those painful weeks, I can remember walking into a room and have everyone in it go silent. The loss of my baby was the elephant in the room. People often don't know what to say to someone who is suffering. Next time you are in the presence of someone who is hurting—and the room goes silent—be the person who gives them a hug and whispers, “I'm sorry.”
Don't say you understand someone else's pain unless you've suffered in a similar way. While it is comforting to talk with others that have come through similar trials, the words, “I understand your pain,” ring hollow when you haven't experienced that grief.
Be a shoulder to cry on. I had never before met the doctor who cared for me after I lost my baby, but she was hand picked by God to minister to me in my time of suffering. Alone in the office, I let my tears flow freely. The doctor entered the room with her ankle length skirt wrapping her in radiant colours. “Can I give you a hug?” She reached out and squeezed me tightly; I was astonished to see tears in her eyes. “People will tell you to get over it, but the most important thing you can do right now is grieve.” Often the hurting will just need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and permission to mourn.
Don't offer platitudes. Words like “It's probably for the best,” can just cause more pain. Even bible verses can be hurtful when they are offered flippantly. God doesn't tell us to cheer up the hurting—but mourn with them.
Offer practical help. Independence is considered a virtue in our culture. Make it easier for the hurting to accept your help by offering clear-cut examples such as: “Tuesday is my town day. Can I pick up some items for you?” or “I'd love to come over and help out with the housework, if that's okay with you.” A home cooked meal is not only practical, but it's also a beautiful gesture of love.
Don't be afraid to talk about the pain or loss. Experiencing pain can be very isolating. After my miscarriage there were very few people that were willing to talk about it with me, even though the healing took many months, and it was often on my mind. On the other hand, be respectful of those who don't want to talk about their pain.
These points aren't meant to be rules, but general principles in ministering to the hurting. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who gives comfort, but He often chooses to use us as ministers of His love.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
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