Trials in our lives are opportunities for us to be helped by others. Then when others go through trials, it is our opportunity to help them. But how do we do that in a way that is beneficial for the sufferer? Sometimes what we think is help is really no help at all. Our help can end up being hurtful, dismissive, or accusatory. This is because of our tendency to be focused on ourselves more than others. We saw this with Fixer Felicia who was more concerned about her part in fixing the problem than really bringing comfort. Now let’s look at another whose help is not really help at all.
Sally loves to be in the know about people who are in the midst of trials. She wants to hear the stories so she can share them at prayer meeting. Sally’s goal is not really to help, but to gain knowledge. When she has this knowledge she makes her own conclusions about what the person should have done to prevent the trial. The words she gives to the one suffering are not very meaningful and certainly not helpful.
“I’m so sorry for you. Thank you for sharing.”
“Thank you for sharing. I love you but I’ve got to go.”
“Awwww you poor thing.”
Sally gives no words of comfort or help. In fact, she doesn’t even stay long enough to show if she cares or not. The only time she’ll remember what is going on in this person’s life will be at the next prayer meeting. Do we take the time to comfort? Do we respond with truth and help from the Word? Do we spread the person’s trial at prayer meeting so that others will think we are in the know? Is being in the know more important to us than really helping our friend?
Harriet listens to a person’s problems with compassion. Compassion is a word that means sympathy with a desire to help. We should sympathize but, that sympathy should drive us to help. Harriet will be very in tune with her friend by keeping eye contact, holding her hand, and seeking to pray as she listens. She wants to be able to share with her friend in order to give her hope. It’s not about Harriet being able to share at a prayer meeting but about sharing hope to the person in need.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2
Harriet is humble and relies on the grace of God in her efforts to give hope to her friend. There is hope in knowing who God is. She wants to give her friend hope by telling her about the grace God has for her in this circumstance. Harriet shares how followers of Christ are standing in God’s grace which helps in the situation.
There is a confidentiality Harriet displays when it comes to her friend’s situation. She doesn’t desire to spread the word about what she knows but rather desires to only speak of it with her friend and in prayer to God. Harriet knows that she doesn’t always handle things the right way and wouldn’t want others to know. This knowledge keeps her from spreading things about others.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Jesus is our example of compassion. His heart was compassionate even to those who were not his followers. The compassion he had marked his entire ministry here on this earth. As followers of Christ, we are to seek to be like him. Let’s take the time to go beyond sympathy to compassion. Then we will have a desire to help the one hurting.