Life is full of pain. As leaders, wherever we are, we must learn to help those that are hurting. A lost loved one, a break-up, financial loss, tough diagnosis. We will all face some really bad news and we will also be in a position to help someone who is suffering. So what do you do when you are hit with helping someone who is hurting? I think you can look at it a bit like triage for a battlefield wound.
Assess the wound: The depth of the situation and the condition of the person that is suffering needs to be considered carefully. Is this something that I can help with? Sometimes the best way to help is to simply listen. Fight the urge to have all the answers or give advice until you are sure they are ready and you really know the facts. Job’s friends sat with him for seven days and seven nights before saying even one word to him. Merely being present and providing comfort is often all you need to do.
Stop the bleeding: If you have the ability to intercede in a practical way in the situation, then block off the thing that is causing the immediate pain. This may be offering help to get out of the situation that they are in. This might be a medical reference, financial help, a friend who has walked the same path before. Sometimes the wound will not be immediately repairable and it will continue to bleed. Be encouraged that just being there provides wound dressing and provides your friend with strength to continue.
Move them: Getting a new perspective or location can help in getting away from a bad situation. Think of ways you can improve their perspective. Get them involved in new activities. Help them change their daily rituals and habits. Find something new that will open their eyes to other things so they will stop focusing on the past and the pain.
Operating Room: If the situation is truly serious, get them to the experts. Don’t attempt to fix deeply rooted or potentially dangerous problems on your own. Realize and admit that you are over your head. Giving bad advice can actually be more damaging than the original wound. Hand it off to an expert.
Most importantly pray! Pray that the Lord would bring healing and restoration. Pray with them. Regardless of their level of faith, the vast majority of people will accept prayer and the act of prayer will help to build their faith in times when things seem to be falling apart. The reassurance that the Lord is always there and loves them completely is an amazing comfort in a tough situation.
Pain will always be a part of life. We must be ready to serve those who are hurting. You don’t always need the answers. Realize that being in a painful situation is often a very lonely place. People will naturally avoid getting involved in painful situations, sometimes out of fear. Just providing an ear to listen and companionship is often enough. Comfort them. Let them know that they are not alone. Reach out- they need you!