One of the ways we can be a good neighbor is to extend comfort to the hurting. There are so many reasons why people are hurting. The loss of a loved one, battling a terminal illness, losing a job, a broken relationship – these are just some of the reasons why so many are hurting.
If we are to be a good neighbor to the hurting, we need to be aware of those around us who are hurting, and we need to learn how to offer comfort to them. Being aware of those who are hurting means we need to think of others more often than we think of ourselves. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4 Scripture also encourages us to “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
We also need to learn how to extend comfort to those who are hurting. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Here are some do’s and don’ts of comforting others who are hurting.
What to Do:
- Be present, and keep being there
- Listen, listen, listen
- Acknowledge their grief
- Assist with real needs (food, resources, friendship)
- Pray with them and for them
- Continue to support
- Love them
- Allow them to talk
- Allow it to be about them, not about you
- Acknowledge birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
What to Say:
- I care about you and am praying for you.
- I don’t know what to say, but please know I am here for you, whatever you need.
- I’m so sorry. This is a terrible loss.
- I’m here for you. Can I call you in a couple of days?
- As your friends, we’re going to help you through this. You’re not alone.
- Please let us know what your specific needs are so we can help you.
- Try to fix the person or the situation
- Avoid them
What Not to Say:
- It’s okay, he’s with Jesus now.
- God wanted your child with Him.
- Everything happens for a reason. God will work this out for good.
- Maybe we should have prayed harder.
- Where is your faith? Things will get better.
- I know just how you feel.
- You must not be looking hard enough for a new job.
- God’s got a better job planned for you.
- It’s just a phase. Your child will get over it and be fine.
Some of these are from experience and some are taken from a great resource from Group Publishing: Emergency Response Handbook for Small Group Leaders. I encourage you to check this book out for ways to respond to many different types of situations when people are hurting.
What are some ways you’ve been comforted when you’ve been hurting? Share your most helpful tips so we can all improve in extending comfort and mercy to the many people around us who are hurting.