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How to Know God »« The Eight Sundays of Eastertide

How to Be With Those in Pain

Today for May’s synchroblog several bloggers are writing about how to help Christians know what to do and what to say when others are going through times pain or hardship.

It’s not easy finding the words for these but here are my four tips based on my own experiences:

1. Be approachable – not intimidating

dave sympathyI remember being intimidated when everyone gathered round me to pray. I’d just been made redundant. I am sure that that everyone wanted the best for me. But I found myself backing away from them as they offered their loudly hyped up ‘faith filled’ prayers on my behalf.

2. Be approving – not patronising

On another occasion I remember feeling the Holy Spirit comfort me during a time of worship. I was experiencing something deep. I must have looked upset because someone asked if they could pray for me. Again they were well meaning but somehow they came over as patronising because I hadn’t ‘got it all together’.

3. Be available – not too distant

More recently when my mother died I was so grateful to have our church home-group that meets in our home around me. They were just getting on with activities as normal but being there for me. It was great to be given some space but still be able to get a sympathetic listening ear when I needed it.

4. Be adaptable

I’ve appreciated when people have just been there for me, rather than when they have felt they have needed to sort out the situation. But over the years I’ve heard others sometimes complain because the church hasn’t been given the support they expected. Everyone is different and it isn’t always that easy to tune into their needs.

I wonder what you would add as number five.

Here are the other synchroblog posts:

May 14, 2013 at 6:00 pm
  • May 16, 2013 at 9:26 amChris Jefferies

    Four great points, Dave. And I like the idea that we are all different and that it can be hard to tune in to a person’s needs. It is so important to make the attempt.

    • May 22, 2013 at 8:35 pmDavid Derbyshire

      Yes, what one person might find supportive someone else might find intrusive. It isn’t that easy to get it right.

  • May 16, 2013 at 12:45 pmCarol Kuniholm

    I think what I hear in your words is this: Be attentive.
    Sometimes offering to pray is the right thing, sometimes not.
    Sometimes saying nothing is the right thing. Sometimes not.
    As you say, it’s not easy to tune into other’s needs, but if we are attentive to the other person, and attentive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we’ll know what’s needed.
    I love the picture of your home group, providing the warmth of being there when you were grieving. It reminds me of good groups I’ve been part of, and makes me hungry for another -Thank you.

    • May 22, 2013 at 8:45 pmDavid Derbyshire

      Thanks Carol!

      Perhaps it is always right to pray, but I think praying out loud for someone who is with you is something to approach humbly and sensitively – somehow communicating that you are doing this, not in an attitude of superiority, but in one of service.

  • May 17, 2013 at 9:31 amJeremy Myers

    I love this post. I love the idea of being available, but not too distant. We kind of have to take our cues from them, right? We are there if they need us, but we don’t force ourselves upon them if they need to be alone. It takes some discernment and wisdom, but when you are with a person in their pain, they often give off cues.

  • May 22, 2013 at 8:47 pmDavid Derbyshire

    Thanks Jeremy! Yes, I think understanding someone’s personality is very important if we are to be them and help them in their pain!

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