I got a call from a very disgruntled church member, with a long list of grievances towards the church. It saddened me as she shared her hurt, it was a reminder that hurt people hurt people. After I met with her in person, I learned about a loss she had experienced, an addiction she was recovering from and a string of disappointments she had been walking through.
We are called to disciple and shepherd not just the ones who are easy, but also the hurting ones. The hurt might be self-inflicted, or due to an illness, personal, financial, or relational loss or a number of other reasons. Regardless of the reason, Romans 12 is a beautiful road map I often refer to for walking with the hurting.
BE PRESENT: Let your love for others be genuine, not artificial or forced. Be the first one to greet them in the church lobby, make eye contact, make them feel valued and that they are important to you. Be present with them as they navigate the ups and downs of life.
Sobriety, forgiving someone, coming back to church, making amends with those they hurt, or starting a conversation with God who they believe let the bad thing happen to them. These may be little baby steps, but it is forward motion, and they need to hear you celebrate with them.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. ” Romans 12:9
“Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15
BE PATIENT: Don’t put off the hard conversations. This takes dedication, time, and intentionality. There is God’s part, our part, and their part. Don’t get too far ahead in your expectations and goal setting for them. Walk next to them, not ahead of them.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
BE HUMBLE: Bless those who persecute you. Ouch, that is a hard one. But Jesus showed us how to do that over and over. Living in harmony is hard work. We don’t get a free pass just because it is hard. Pride is the enemy of humility.
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” – Romans 12:14
BE A GOOD LISTENER: Wisdom is knowing what to say and more importantly what not to say. Listen with the intent to understand, not respond. The best moments occur when I’m counseling someone and they have an “awe ha” moment as they talk it out. I didn’t tell them the solution, the Holy Spirit did.
If you are walking with someone who is hurting, has hurt you or those you care about, give it to God. He can take the burden off your shoulders and do what only he can do. Love them well in their journey to freedom from the heartaches weighing them down.
by Judy Cintron – Director of Restoration
Real Life Ministries Texas