“I don’t know what to say or how to help, but I’m praying for you.”
There are other people’s life events that we handle by formula. A new, healthy baby means a card and a gift at the baby shower. Recuperating from home after a successful surgery means that we send over warm wishes plus a casserole. We hear the news, we give the appropriate response, and then we don’t think about it much after that.
But then there are problems that our friends could have that just wreck us. A spouse dies suddenly. A loved one has dementia. A teen runs away. A husband leaves his wife. Cancer is diagnosed. Upon hearing the news, we read Galatians 6:2 ESV and long to carry it out. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We want to help our friends, to ease their suffering somehow. But we don’t see how. Here are three ways we can be a better friend to someone in crisis.
- Listen, but don’t push on them to talk. Maybe they are tired of rehashing the same details, of reliving the same pain. They might want to talk about something else for a while. Give them the gift of time.
- Pray. Maybe we didn’t get a chance to talk to them, or we aren’t close enough to have a deep conversation with them. Is it beyond our God of the universe to know exactly what the person needs? Certainly not! We can spend time in prayer for them, asking God to guide us as we pray. Consider making it a repeating calendar reminder to pray for that person. When I update one of my friends on an ongoing prayer request, she always responds that she prayed for that request just that morning. She prays for me every day! I see her once or twice a year. It is a true gift that someone gives to pray.
- Ask again, is there a way I can help you. Without pushing, it is good to try to ask again a little bit later. Maybe in the next week or the next month, they will have found that they need help, or may feel more comfortable asking for help. One podcast I listened to gave me a more informed perspective on helping a friend who has cancer: “Supporting a Friend with Cancer :: Marissa Henley [Ep 235]” on the Don’t Mom Alone podcast. Remember that this is about meeting their need for help, not meeting our need to help – offense should not be taken.
Lord, sometimes we feel over our head when our friend’s problem is so big. We don’t have control but You do! We pray that You would help us to be the friend that You want us to be. We pray that you would bring our friend to mind often so we can pray continuously for them! Thank you for the gift of friendship. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.