In times of suffering, our loved ones need us more than ever. But knowing how to support them can be a challenge. Should we give them space or dive in to help? When do we ask questions, and when do we wait for them to open up? While each person and situation is unique, we can learn a lot from ministering to those in pain and reflecting on our own experiences of loss.
First and foremost, we should turn to prayer, covering our loved ones in spiritual, physical, and emotional support. Pray for their relationship with God, their physical well-being, and emotional comfort. Pray for guidance in how to support them and for the effectiveness of our efforts (2 Thessalonians 1:11).
Alongside prayer, the S.L.O.W. approach can offer tangible ways to help those in need:
Being present is crucial in times of suffering. Jesus himself desired the company of his friends during his moments of anguish (Mark 14:32-35). Don’t let fear of not knowing what to say hold you back; your presence alone can provide strength and comfort to the one in need.
Most people don’t need sermons in their pain. They need a listening ear and sometimes even silence. Job’s friends sat with him without speaking for seven days (Job 2:13). Good listening involves allowing the person to express their feelings without judgment and offering them space to process their emotions.
Offer Specific Help
Offering practical help is essential but often overlooked. Consider the person’s needs and abilities when deciding how to assist. It could be as simple as walking their dog, preparing a meal, or watching their children for a few hours.
Words of Grace
Choose your words carefully, taking into account their timing and impact. Avoid platitudes, and focus on sharing your faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16). Share how God has comforted you during your trials and trust the Holy Spirit to use your words.
When a friend is struggling, consider the S.L.O.W. approach to offer support. Be prepared to enter the messiness of pain, listen more than speak, and offer specific help where needed. Share your faith and the hope that comes from God, knowing that your presence and words can make a difference in their healing journey. Remember, healing may be slow, but God is using your efforts in ways that will shine in glory.