We cannot know for certain how another person feels–the depth of their pain…their emptiness, loss or fear. We may think we know how a person feels when we see them under fire, trial, or difficulty. We may have had some similar situation in which we felt a specific heartache or crisis. However, unless we are the other person, we cannot know the loneliness, the grief, the anxiety, or doubt another has. We cannot know their brokenness or experience their suffering.
Likewise we cannot know how deep their faith is based on their tears or depression. They may be trusting in God and clinging to Him with all that is within them in order to keep from totally falling apart. We cannot know what “falling apart” looks like–the end of another’s rope to us may be the knots the LORD has tied around their wrists to keep them from slipping in the mire of circumstance. We cannot know another’s heart.
That’s why sometimes our impulsive words like “you just need to trust in the Lord”, sound so hollow and trite.
Yes…we all know we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us”, but we do not all know when Christ designates the strength to meet the problem or trial we face. We who care would do well to exercise discernment and restraint when we seek to comfort or minister, or advise another in need.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
Words that have helped me in trying times are:
“I am so sorry. I wish I had answers.”
“I don’t know how you feel right now, but I care that you hurt.”
“I can’t know the confusion and betrayal you feel right now, but I will pray for you during this time. Please hang on to that.”
“I can’t imagine how hard it is for you to deal with this, but please know that I care and will be here if you need someone to just sit with you. No need to talk. No explanations needed. Just someone in the room.”
“Do you care if I pray for you?”
Sometimes just a hug, and pat on the arm, or squeeze of an elbow is all a person needs to know someone cares and feels their pain. The best cards are blank cards with appropriate pictures and a handwritten, “I care” inside with a phone number.
PRAYER: LORD, give us wisdom to discern the words another needs to hear as a soothing balm. Help us be sensitive to another’s pain and heartache so we treat others with kindness, love and gentleness. And, if there is someone in need of comfort, direction, or peace who read these words today, I pray You have mercy upon them and pour out Your abundant grace that they may know You are God and that You care for them.