There are so many truly hurting people out there. We desperately need to know how to minister to them. These are hurting, bleeding, wounded sisters in Christ.
My hope is to give some insight in how to minister to widows primarily, but many of these suggestions apply to all different kinds of hurting people. Some may have a loss of a child, a broken marriage or a loss of a relationship, a loss of a parent. Some may have lost a job that meant their financial security, their retirement and loss of their home. Some are grieving the loss of something they never had….. a lady who never had the opportunity to marry and have children, or one who is married that is grieving the children she could never birth.
For some, these losses are so significant that they cannot even think how to go on with life. I firmly believe that if we cannot show deep compassion to them at this time, we cannot minister to them in their need. There is a broken world out there. The losses that people have are so tremendous….and we need to be there for them.
Here are a few hints of what broken, hurting people need… and maybe what they do not need.
…….Their greatest need is for someone to listen. Sit with them, listen, and scripture says in Romans 12:15….”weep with them that weep”. Christ did this. His dear friend died, and the sisters who were dear friends as well, we heartbroken ( John 11:1-44). Christ felt their pain and sorrow. He wept with them. He showed the compassion that we need to show for those who grieve, are in deep sorrow, or have a loss in their lives that has caused them to weep. If we as Christians do not have this compassion, the world surely will not. This is a wonderful opportunity to allow Christ to minister through us.
Why don’t we weep with them? I submit to you that we do not have the heart of Christ, if we cannot weep with those who need someone to feel their pain and sorrow. Many times in the Gospels it says…Jesus had compassion on them. Isaiah 53 verse 3 says that Christ was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him…”. This is indicating that we put him out of our mind, as people of that day put lepers out of their presence. The proud sinful heart of man put Christ out of his presence of mind. We need NOT duplicate that sin if we know Christ and have an opportunity to minister to another hurting person in need. Many of these are in the body of Christ and “the body” is hurting ( 1 Corin. 12:13,14,18,23-26 ).
…….Time is precious to the hurting. Sometimes they just need someone to sit with them, and by that show they care and “are there” for them. Can you spend some time to be with them? They may feel all alone and the presence of another person may help greatly.
…….Let them talk. They sometimes need someone with whom to talk. When people are deeply hurting, they do NOT need advise or someone “throwing scripture at them”. They need a person to sit, listen and maybe weep with them. Deep, deep grief cannot handle “lots of advice” or accusations of what they did wrong or needed to do, or need now to do. Job had friends like that and God reprimanded them for their actions. They did not help Job when they did that.
…….Pray when you are in the presence of a deeply grieving person. Ask the Lord to guide you in what to do. When they are deeply grieving, their need will be different than when they have walked a while in their sorrow and grief. After the Lord has ministered to them in their soul and spirit, they will be more open and able to think through Biblical council, and even suggestions for help. Praying with them at this time may be a tremendous help to them.
…….People say, “Give it time” or “It just takes time”. It is not really time that ministers; it is Christ and His Word that makes the difference. It is the strength and comfort that a loving, caring, omnipotent, sovereign God can give over time, that brings the healing. It is what those who are grieving do in that time that makes the difference between resolving the grief, or going on for a long period of time with unresolved grief. Christ is the only one that can fill and fulfill the need of the heart. He is the only one that can meet the need of the heart, because He is the only one that truly knows the deep wound of the heart and soul that this person is experiencing. Christ’s compassion shown through us at this time is so crucial. Seek to be the comforter (“parakletos”….consoler-advocate ) that comes alongside them and walks with them.
……..Someone said to a really grieving person, “You just need to be thankful for what you had….” This is not really helpful. That person may truly be thankful for what they had, but that does not make the grief and sorrow any less. A statement like this to a severely grieving person only succeeds to heap guilt on an already wounded soul. It is difficult to be able to rejoice when the heart and soul is so heavy with grief and sorrow. If this person truly knows the Lord, it will come. The joy of the Lord is there, and it will bubble forth in due time.
……..Some say, “You should not be sorrowing as those who have no hope”( I Thes. 4:13). This statement is not helpful either. The person may have great hope in the resurrection. (If the truth is known, they may want to be “raptured” out of here immediately, if nothing else than to escape the pain of heart and soul.) This only succeeds in heaping more guilt on an already grieving person. Be careful of your words. If you have not experienced the exact loss that they have, then you cannot possibly know how they feel.
……..Yes, there may come a time when the person grieving needs wise council, but make sure the Lord has given you the right words of council for them when you seek to help them.
……..Who is to say how long it takes to “be able to go on” after a loss. Remember each person grieves at a different pace. They usually do not “just get over it” like it was a bad cold! Give them the time they need, pray with them and for them. Be the friend they need to walk this journey with them as much as you can. God in His sovereignty is doing a work and has a purpose for all things that He allows. Pray for the Lord’s healing for them.