I recently saw a quote that discussed how we are at times frustrated with someone for the things they cannot do (as in someone struggling with dementia, chronic pain, paralysis, or other debilitating struggle)…if we are that frustrated with them, how must it be for them knowing they can’t do the things they could once do, or would love to do?
It’s message was clear. We need to have compassion.
Our world is full of pain. Broken bodies, broken relationships, broken lives. How can we come alongside someone who is struggling?
In the past couple of weeks, I have heard from people struggling with the following:
Severe debilitating pain;
A son addicted to meth;
An uncle with Parkinson’s and dementia;
A cancer diagnosis;
A caregiver whose days are filled with exhaustion and concern for the loved ones in her care;
An older couple with marriage problems;
Someone suffering the loss of a loved one;
A missionary dealing with the aftermaths of a tsunami;
And the list goes on…
God calls us to be compassionate toward those who are struggling, no matter what those struggles may be. While we may not exactly understand the hardships others face, we can be a listening ear, a gentle voice, and a prayer warrior for those who need us most.
So, how can you show compassion?
- Offer prayer support. Don’t only offer to pray for someone, but actual pray at that time with that person. It wasn’t long ago that my daughters and I stood in our local Walmart and prayed with a woman and her husband after they’d received the news that he had cancer.
- Have a listening ear. When someone is going through a hard time, just having someone listen is crucial.
- Be engaged. How many times do we catch ourselves saying, “if you need anything, please let me know.” That’s a nice gesture, but how about saying instead, “what is it I can do to help you?” And then be sure to do it.
- Don’t offer a million “fixes.” A woman I know who has severe chronic pain says the most difficult thing is when well-meaning people tell her if she’d just take “this” supplement or “do this or that exercise”, she’d be healed. Those who are going through a tough time don’t need suggestions. They need us to be there.
- Be patient. If someone you know is struggling with something that is big to them, but you can’t understand the severity of it, be patient. We never know how things affect others.
- Put yourself in their shoes.
The God we serve is a God of compassion and mercy. As we strive to be more like Jesus everyday, let’s strive to be more compassionate toward those in need of our tender care.