Have you ever had a serious problem in your life but felt like nobody understood or even worse cared to understand? If you have let me first tell you that I am sorry you had to go through that experience in your life feeling alone. If you are still experiencing a trial of anguish be encouraged that God knows your suffering and in a little while will relieve you from it.
Affliction can be a very lonely place. When one is sick, tormented, or in emotional or physical pain that person often feels isolated from the rest of the world. Sometimes hurting people can be out and about in the world and yet still feel very alone. During times of hardship, it is imperative that as Christ followers we do not respond with callous Christianized answers to another’s pain. Instead, we need to listen first and then give a soft, gentle, and firm answer or say nothing.
A callous answer is often spoken without thought, and sometimes from a hardened, insensible, and unfeeling heart. Add a Bible verse to a hard heart, and you have a great mixture for a religious spirit. Other times callous answers can come from an individual who loves you but has no other way of handling that which they don’t understand so, they throw a Bible verse at you. I am all for speaking the word of God over our situations, but sometimes a person needs just to process their problem and feel heard.
In Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, one of his desires was to see the people of God in that region mature in their relationship with Jesus Christ and each other. The book of Romans holds valuable, orderly, and weighty but logical truths concerning Christian doctrine. One interesting fact about Paul’s letter to Rome is that he wrote it before he had visited there. Because he had not visited these people yet he did not write them about specific local issues but wrote them teachings that all Christ followers should live by.
One of Paul’s exhortations was to Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. - Rom 12:15 In chapter twelve, Paul gave practical applications about how to present ourselves as a sacrifice to God, how to use spiritual gifts, how to relate to Christians and unbelievers, and even how to relate to the government.
The shortest verse in the Bible is, “Jesus wept.” Jhn 11:35. When Lazarus died even though Jesus said his sickness was not going to lead to death, Jesus wept when He returned to the family and found them distraught. Illness and death bring mourning to those who suffer with a suffering person . But, for those who do not walk with people as close as loved ones do those people may not respond with tears but rather with rebuke. Other times an individual may respond to the one who is suffering with an attitude of moral judgment. They may believe that the person in anguish needs more faith to be healed, or wonder out loud or silently about the sin the person must have committed to be in such torment.
When Jesus arrived at Mary and Martha and the rest of those He loved, He saw them weeping, and He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. -Jhn 11:33 When we weep with, and for others, we show the world we care and love. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, "See how He loved him!" - Jhn 11:35-36
11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place--Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that [his] grief was very great. - Job 2:11-13 NKJV
Job’s friends wept at the sight of his pain. They sat in silence with him as they watched with wonder at his agony. Can you imagine sitting with someone for seven days and not giving them advice about their situation and not trying to fix it? Sometimes this is what people need when they are suffering. Silent but present friendships. God’s gift to humankind is His Spirit, and through Him, we can know when to speak and when to be quiet. We must be willing to allow God’s Spirit to direct our witnessing and our ministering to others, or else we will pour out our opinionated perspective. We all do it. We all give wrong words with our understanding and knowledge and miss the love part that we are supposed to be led by.
At one point Job’s friends were more like enemies as they questioned his position with God, his integrity and honesty, and his righteousness. I believe Job’s friends spent enough time with him to be overwhelmed and confused. How could a man who appeared to walk uprightly with God lose everything he had and end up so sick? It happens. We live in a world that is ripe for all kinds of suffering because it is infected first with sin. We must admit we don’t always have all the answers. Even when a person suffers, we must be faithful to God and what we believe about Him and what His word says.
Our Circumstances Do Not Change God’s Identity
God is described as merciful, long-suffering, kind and affectionate but yet a just God who judges rightly every circumstance in our lives. Nonetheless, God is good even when we don’t see what we think is good. God is a healer even when the healing doesn’t manifest. God is love even when we fail to love. No matter our viewpoint on any particular situation God’s identity does not change because of our circumstances. Faith will win every time; Abraham and Isaac proved it.
In the letter to Philippi, Paul said he was sending Epaphroditus back to them because they were distressed over his sickness. Epaphroditus had been ministering to Paul’s needs and came down with some illness that almost killed him. The letter says that God had mercy on Epaphroditus and Paul so that he was healed and Paul was relieved of even more sorrow. (Phil 2).
The Psalmist said, But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing [was] sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart. - Psa 35:13
When people we know and love are sick or suffering, it will help them best if we do the following.
Ask them you can pray for them. Then do it.
Fast and pray if it is a severe situation. Fasting breaks the yoke of bondage and sickness is bondage.
Do not judge them.
Do not assume they are in sin because of their suffering.
Do not assume they are doing a mighty work for God and that is why they are suffering.
Bring a meal, clean their house, run an errand.
Send them an encouraging text.
Do not give a religious and callous response to any one situation; it will only add to their grief.
Do not say “I know what you’re going through.” Do say, “I’m sorry you are suffering.”
Lastly, weep with them.When they are released from their suffering, rejoice. While they are suffering help them to worship the One who can bring peace.
I believe that Christians should be the most compassionate people on earth and I think they are for the most part. Unfortunately, many ministers and lay ministers are not equipped with the training or even the least bit of knowledge about how to help someone in their suffering or loss.
After being in the ministry of healing and deliverance for several years, I have heard of a lot of suffering. As a leader in ministry and now a Pastor I hear and witness much pain. As a human being, I have and still do, encounter my own personal sufferings. I come from a place of experience in this area which is why I felt it was necessary to bring this subject up.
I have not always responded appropriately to another’s pain, and for those times I do regret. However, I have made it a purpose in my life to do better in responding to another’s trials, and I still have not perfected my response, but with practice, I have gotten better and so can you.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to bring about healing for all. I repent for the times I did not respond in the right manner to another’s agony. I repent for not responding in love to them and for the times I acted out with an ugly attitude out of my own suffering. I am grateful that we have a hope for eternity in Your Son Jesus Christ. I know one day there will be an end to all the suffering of the world, but until then, I ask for Your help in tending to others emotional, spiritual, and physical needs while they suffer. I ask You to remind me daily of Your goodness even when things are bad. I love You, Lord, in Jesus name, Amen.