Caring For the Hurting
Posted On January 30, 2018
As Christians, we are called to care for those who are hurting. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). He also states, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Rom. 15:1). So what does this look like in the Christian life? When a friend or family member is hurting, it becomes the duty of the Christian to come alongside, pray for, weep with, and in time build them up and remind them of the promises of God so that once more they might find their hope in God. Yet, this duty must be carefully and humbly approached. Sometimes the best thing to do for one’s brother or sister in Christ is to seek someone wiser than yourself to counsel him or her. It takes a prudent, discerning, and selfless heart to care for the hurting.
Then again, when Christians are spiritually hurting, they may suffer a kind of pain that is not immediately visible to others. It is a hidden pain, and yet a deep and dreadful one. It is one that requires great care and observation to perceive. Even more, it takes a patient, listening ear and a trustworthy spirit so that the one who is hurting might feel comfortable and safe sharing his or her struggle. We must be careful not to impose our ideas on the hurting before we’ve worked to understand what is causing the pain. We also need to remember that we can hardly help others if we are not also addressing our own needs. To help the hurting, we must learn to love the hurting. To do so takes time, determination, and dependence on the Holy Spirit, the “Helper” par excellence (John 14:16, 26).
If these qualities are not apparent in our lives as Christians, there are ways we can grow to become more caring and less selfish as we seek to serve those who are spiritually hurting. Preeminently, we should spend time in the Word of God and in prayer to Him. Both study and prayer work in conjunction toward our sanctification as believers. The prayerful study of God’s Word is essential if we expect to benefit the church. As we grow in holiness, we will grow in our ability to serve others. Spending time in the presence of our holy God exposes our own deficiency in love. It should also grow our desire to share the gospel with those around us, to build up fellow Christians in the faith, and to serve the Lord faithfully in Spirit and in truth. Nothing drives these passions like a devoted lifestyle of Scripture reading and prayer.
We must also bear in mind that spiritual pain comes in innumerable shapes and sizes. When caring for others, we should respond accordingly. While one individual might require a few conversations and a short time of prayer, another might require hours of counseling and check-ups over a longer period of time. These things must be assessed individually based on the person and the problem. There is no one particular, prescribed method of caring. It is part of the duty and calling of a counselor to be discerning, and also to have a patient and listening ear to hear what a brother or sister is expressing. However, one thing always holds true: Going to the Lord in Word and prayer for wisdom and guidance is crucial to every counseling situation.
To care for someone who is spiritually hurting is a heavy burden to bear. We may take comfort in the knowledge that God is the One who ultimately cares for us. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up. God is our salvation” (Ps. 68:19).
Jeanna Will is a senior at Reformation Bible College.