Many of us are guilty of being a finger pointer when it comes to trials in someone else’s life. We want be the bearer of the answers as to why the trial is happening. As someone shares with us, we’re looking for sin patterns that have contributed to the trial. Why? So we can point our finger and feel a bit superior to the one who is suffering. This is a wrong pattern of thinking which assumes all trials are caused by sin.
Finger Pointing Frieda
Frieda has a nose for sin in others. She’s always looking for those who don’t measure up to where she believes they should be. This happens more when a person is in the midst of a trial and shares with her. Frieda is certain that she would handle the trial differently. She is also sure the trial is a result of sin in the person’s life. As she listens, she feels it is her job to point out the sin and call the person to repent.
“I’m sure that’s terrible but it wouldn’t have happened if you had just trusted God.”
“God has allowed this in your life to get your attention because of your sin.”
“What do you expect to happen when you continue to _____________?”
“I can see this is your fault for not following God as you should.”
The person who has Frieda as a comforter is not being comforted. Can you see how these types of statements point the finger back at the sufferer? All the discomfort felt is the fault of the sufferer. Is that the way we are to respond? The answer is no, because Jesus, when confronted with an adulterous woman by the scribes and Pharisees, answered their charges by reminding them of their own sins.
“…Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone…” John 8:7b
Harriet understands sin. She knows that sin has consequences, but she also knows that suffering is not always the result of the person’s sin. Harriet will listen carefully to the one who is suffering in the trial and sort out how to help the person find hope and comfort. There is no hope for someone who keeps getting a finger pointed at them. She is humble enough to remember that she is a sinner saved by the blood of Jesus. Harriet doesn’t feel the finger of God pointing to her in her sin but knows Jesus stands in her place. This is so hopeful and she wants to share this hope with others.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:21-24
What is most important for helping a person going through a trial is to bring them to the point of having hope in God. Harriet hears the whole story and can see that there is sin, but knows that this is not the time to address the sin. It is the time to give hope in the Lord who loves with a steadfast love. She spends time talking about God and his character rather than finger pointing at sin. As the person hears and begins to get some hope and perspective, there will come a time to address the areas of sin in her life. Harriet knows it will take time and is willing to spend the time listening and encouraging so that hope is evident in the person’s life. After that the Holy Spirit may have already revealed the sin in the person’s life which needs to addressed and if not, Harriet can bring it up with grace.
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13
What about us?
As followers of Christ, we have the opportunity to come along side our brothers and sisters to help in their time of need. We must do so humbly, with great expectation in what the Lord can accomplish in their lives and ours. There are so many times we fail to help because, quite frankly, we get in the way. Our pride and arrogance wants to be the savior in the situation, but we have to remember there is only ONE SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. We are called to point others to him for their hope and help. Are we willing to let go of what we think we know in order to direct others to what they need to know? May God give us the grace to see ourselves as we really are, totally dependent on him. Then and only then will we be the helpers God desires us to be.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20