Choose to Comfort Not Condemn
Choices change our lives…
By Barbara Dahlgren
When someone is going through a hardship, they need comfort and encouragement – not judgment and condemnation. If we aren’t careful, we can make false assumptions about someone else’s trials. Here are a few…
A trial is God’s way of punishing people for their sins. Not true! God doesn’t need to punish us for sin. Sin brings its own punishment. We don’t know why someone is ill. When God healed the blind man in John 9, the disciples asked who had sinned to cause this blindness, him or his parents. Jesus said, “Neither!” (John 9:1-3)
People always bring afflictions upon themselves. Not true! We don’t know why someone is having a trial. After Jesus told the disciples that no one had sinned to cause the man’s blindness in John 9, he went on to say why this man was blind: “…that the works of God should be revealed in him.” We don’t know what God is doing an another person’s life.
If people have enough faith, they won’t be having trials. Not true! Did David lack faith? Did Paul lack faith? Did Job lack faith? Did Jesus lack faith? I don’t think so!
Bad things happen to good people all the time and we don’t know why. And shame on those who go to suffering people and add to their misery by telling them if they had enough faith they wouldn’t be going through some horrendous trial. If we learn anything from the Bible, it’s that all God’s children got problems – or will have problems.
Some faithful Christians will get diseases and die no matter how many sincere prayers are said for healing. Some will be gunned down by random acts of violence no matter how pure their lives have been. Some husbands will leave beautiful wives no matter how faithful and loving those wives have been. Dedicated Christians will face loneliness, death, anxiety, suffering, temptation, fear, exhaustion, conflict, poverty, and uncertainty just like everyone else.
People don’t need judgment or condemnation when they are going through trials. They also don’t need platitudes that might be helpful in the future, but certainly not during present suffering. Hurting people do not want to hear…
- This was part of God’s plan.
- The Lord works in mysterious ways.
- All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.
- God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.
- What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
- You need to pray more.
- You’ll be just fine.
- Be thankful it isn’t worse.
- I understand how you feel.
We don’t understand how people feel. Everyone is different. Everyone processes what happens in a different way. To say we know how someone feels is presumptuous. It, just like all the other platitudes mentioned, does nothing to alleviate a suffering person’s present distress.
So how can we comfort people? Sometimes by saying nothing but just being there. We can be available, give a hug, or sit with them in silence. Send a card saying we can’t imagine the pain they are feeling but we are so sorry for what they are going through. Bathe them in prayer.
Consider this…We can come alongside hurting people with an open mind and willing heart. In addition, we can ask God privately to guide us so we can be a help, not a hindrance.
One final thought… People don’t want to feel condemned or preached to in times of trouble. They just want to feel like someone cares.