Being There (4)

‘Share each other’s burdens.’ Galatians 6:2 NLT

Dr Raymond Vath said, ‘We must do for others what they cannot do for themselves, but we must not do for them what they will not do for themselves. The problem is finding the wisdom to know the difference.’ You can be too helpful! By doing for somebody what they can do for themselves, you undermine their self-reliance and create an unhealthy dependence. So instead of rushing in and taking over:

(1) Show them manageable action steps. By helping them take charge of their life you’re arming them against despair and powerlessness. And by validating their efforts you’re helping them to rebuild their fragile confidence. A word of caution, however: when the crisis involves irreversible loss like divorce or death, the work of simply getting through one day at a time is action enough.

(2) Give them hope. In the depth of crisis there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel—a sense that the suffering will go on endlessly. Growth and improvement can’t happen without hope. Hope provides energy, and brings relief based on the conviction that things will improve. God promises, ‘I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering.’ (Jeremiah 29:11 CEV)

(3) Be sure to follow up. Crises are seldom resolved quickly. Although life may eventually take on some semblance of normalcy, there may be episodes of relapse into sadness, helplessness or loneliness. Your words may bring comfort, but your ongoing attentiveness will help the hurting person maintain faith and progress in their journey to healing.