“How to "Be There" for a Fellow Christian”Categories: Christian Living, Encouragement, Family, For the Ladies, Joshuah Ellis
It seems inevitable that at some point, there is going to be some hardship among your spiritual family. After all, we all suffer, don’t we? We lose people who are dear to us. We endure financial struggles. We suffer from illness. Sometimes, the hardship might not necessarily be negative, though. Think about the craziness that comes from bringing a new baby home from the hospital or moving into a new house. All of these things, whether they be good or bad, tend to bring stress into our lives and burdens we aren’t typically accustomed to bearing.
It is natural, I think, when we notice that someone close to us is carrying around one of these burdens, for us to want to help. We usually let the person or persons know that we are praying for them and then we say it. We speak the same phrase almost every time, don’t we? We look at our struggling brother or sister, we smile, and we say, “If there is anything I can do, just let me know.” But what happens after that? How many times do they call us up and say, “Hey, since you offered, I could really use…?” It doesn’t happen very often, does it? So even though we are very willing to help and bear the burdens of our fellow Christians (Galatians 6:2), our hands are tied because no request has come to us.
What if there were some things we could do on our own that did not depend on a specific request? The following are a few things I think we can do to really “be there” for a brother or sister who is struggling.
1. Pray for them. Yes, it is obvious, but stay with me on this. We often tell one another, “I’ll pray for you” when we notice they are struggling. While there is not a thing in the world that is wrong with this, try mixing it up a bit. Instead of talking about what you will do, mention to them what you have already done. Say a prayer for the person and then send them a text or give them a call and let them know that you have already petitioned God on their behalf (Hebrews 4:16).
2. Use one-way communication. I remember, when I lost a loved one last year, I was pretty destroyed. I knew my brothers and sisters were so concerned and wanted to be there for me. However, I had a really hard time talking on the phone about what had happened. More than anything, I appreciated the emails, texts and cards that I received. That way, I was able to receive the encouragement I needed without the added pressure of having to respond right away. So, instead of calling, think about sending a text, card or something else that can let that person know your thoughts and prayers are with them, but won’t obligate them to an immediate response.
3. Cook something. Ok, I am seriously laughing right now. I know this might be the most southern sentiment ever. We the goin’ gets tough, Texans fire up the trusty crockpot. Still, it’s a great idea. If someone is having a difficult time, the last thing they want to think about is cooking dinner. To have something brought over is a tremendous help and it is also very thoughtful and encouraging. My wife is great at this! She might not have the perfect thing to say in her back pocket at all times, but she is a fantastic cook and this is a great way to “be there” for someone who is going through a difficult time.
4. Don’t ask (or wait to be asked). OK, this one is based 100% on your relationship and influence with the other person. That being said, this suggestion might not work with someone you are not very close to. This only emphasizes the importance of building relationships with your spiritual family. If you do have a strong relationship, then don’t wait to be told what to do. Just do it. If a brother or sister is struggling, just show up and do something. Pick up the house. Wash the dishes. Do a load of towels. Pray with them. Do something! Take some of their menial burdens off their shoulders so they can focus on more pressing matters.
I know this isn’t always easy and that often, our level of love and concern is matched only by our lack of understanding as to what we could or should do in a difficult situation. There are no small gestures when it comes to offering support and encouragement to a fellow Christian who is suffering. Just don’t let uncertainty paralyze you.
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