How to Help a Hurting Friend

How to Help a Hurting Friend

Maybe I talk about hurt too much. Maybe I’ve mentioned depression and stress and anxiety and failure so often that I sound like I need serious help.

 

If I do, I’m sorry.

 

But we can’t ignore pain.

 

As I sit here at my computer, I’m gazing out the window at the wet earth around me.

It’s been raining for days. A bone-chilling draft penetrates my skin, enough so that nothing warms me, not even my cup of coffee, and my beef stew is long-since hot.

 

Sometimes, that’s what hurt feels like, whether it’s mental, emotional, or physical.

 

It’s uncomfortable, and not something easily shaken away. Pain lingers, with no button to press or Band-Aid to put on to make it all better.

 

I’ve been on both sides of hurt. I’ve had friends in need, and I myself have had times like those as well.

 

Perhaps you’re mainly on the other side of things; watching friends suffer, and not knowing how to help them. Or maybe you’re the hurting one. Maybe people see you in need of help and ask, “What can I do for you?” and you simply respond, “Nothing, I’m good,” with a fake smile plastered on, reminiscent of Barbie.

 

But no matter how strong we are, or at least how strong we pretend to be, we’re all weak on the inside. We all need people around us to support us and help us to heal.

 

Are you wondering how to help a hurting friend? Here are three ways.

 

Pray For Them.

 

There’s nothing more beautiful and powerful than prayer. When a friend tells you, “I’ve been praying for you,” it’s touching. To think that someone would take the time to implore the Creator of the universe on our behalf is one of the kindest things we can hear.

Yes, because it’s a thoughtful gesture, but more so because we know that prayer works. Perhaps not always in the fix-it-quick way we might think, but in the way that God knows is best.

 

Sometimes, I can feel that someone’s been praying for me, when a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I just feel free.

It’s a blessing to get a text a little while later, saying, “Hey Amanda, I prayed for you today. How are you doing?”

 

Wow.

 

James 5:16

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

 

Stay With Them.

 

It’s almost hypocrisy to flee upon finding out someone’s aching, after promising to be there for them.

 

It’s easy to walk out of a friendship when the person’s fallen into difficult days, for it requires no energy on our part.

But please, I beg of you, if you want to help your hurting friend, stick by them. Stay alongside them when they tell you they’re “fine.” Don’t judge them when they refuse help – sometimes, they’re just testing you to see if you’ll remain by their side, because it’s what they really need.

 

Don’t give up on your friend. Forgive them if they’ve damaged your friendship. Keep loving them, even when they act like they don’t want to be loved. Trust me, they do.

 

Proverbs 17:17

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

 

Galatians 6:2

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

Encourage Them.

 

Encouragement is incredible. It has an innate power to keep us running when we want to give up. It inspires us to push on toward our goals. It motivates us to get out of bed in the morning because we know we are cared for.

 

Whether sharing Bible verses, sweet, comforting words, sending a care package or letter, or just letting someone know that they’re not alone, encouragement of all kinds is a blessing.

 

To your hurting friend (or perhaps even you), it may mean the world.

 

And don’t give up. Keep encouraging them and lavishing the love of Christ on your friend.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

 

*aj

When Fiction Seems Cooler Than Jesus

When Fiction Seems Cooler Than Jesus

Let’s face it: sometimes, fictional worlds just seem better than reality. Books, movies, TV shows – they’re usually crafted from stories created by writers.

 

I love all kinds of fiction, whether I’m absorbing an action-drama TV show or a riveting fantasy novel. In all honesty, they’re pretty great. We all love the well-developed characters – those people we can’t imagine not being real – the witty dialogue – the relationships between our “screen friends” – the realness of it all – the fact that we relate to it – the mood and setting – the music and filmography – the expressions – it’s the magic of everything working together that captivates us.

 

Maybe we like fiction because it’s an escape from reality. But at the same time, we want it to be realistic.

 

How on earth could this make any sense?

 

I believe we want reality in a neat little box. We want decisions to be simple, pain to be controlled, good to always win, and to be involved in something incredible. We want heroism. We want victory. We want to experience something powerful and bigger than ourselves.

 

But in our lives, neatness is not usually the case. Decisions are rarely black and white, with one choice as good and another evil. Morality isn’t always clear.

 

Pain happens. Hearts break. Happy endings don’t always come together. And for crying out loud, folks, our lives often seem so boring. We’re not chasing bad guys or riding dragons or being heroes or going on adventures through space and time.

 

So we read about it, and we entertain ourselves with fantasies of what’s not quite possible for us in this world.

 

And honestly, fiction is FANTASTIC. We can be intimately involved in the lives of our favorite characters and live vicariously through them. I love that aspect of it so much.

 

What I don’t like is that when I’m so involved in a world of writing, acting, and fangirly feels, my longing for the Bible tends to decrease. But why is this? As a girl who desperately wants to wholeheartedly desire the Word of God, I find myself frustrated when I feel like the Bible has become a chore.

 

I want to make sure it’s clear that I’m not trying to preach at anyone here, or demean fiction, or make it sound like I’m super-spiritual or something. I deal with the same things you do. I sometimes struggle to find motivation to read the Bible, as opposed to the novel beside my bed. I’m not perfect whatsoever, and I’m pulled between reading a devotion and watching my favorite show.

 

I don’t judge those who struggle to desire to read the Bible, because I think we’ll all encounter that sometime in our lives.

 

But what about when fictional realities seem more attractive than real life?

 

What do we enjoy about fantasy that makes us want to stay there, and what is it about the Bible that we treat it like work or obligation?

 

When did we forget that the Bible, salvation, and our very faith affects the whole universe, and those things are significantly larger than ourselves? When did we let our views of God’s amazing love and grace become dulled?

 

I’m addressing questions just like this in the book I’m writing right now. I don’t have every answer, but I’m really enjoying sharing my heart on such issues and further solidifying what I believe. I finished up Camp NaNoWriMo with 17,131 words, and while I’m still technically on the third (very very long) chapter, I’m getting so far.

 

Instead of trying to answer all the questions a lot of us have, I’m just going to ask us to think:

 

What’s so cool about fiction that it often seems cooler than Jesus?

Why does faith sometimes take the back burner when it comes to entertainment?

What can we do to grow in our hearts the desire of knowing Jesus better?

 

I’ll leave you with that for the night, because it’s extremely late and I’m losing coherence. For more posts on Bible reading, see these:

 

// The Bible Is Not A Burden: 3 Truths About God’s Word

 

// How to Read the Bible {effectively spending time with our Heavenly Father}

 

// Why Should I Read the Bible?

 

*aj

Truth From The Psalms

Truth From The Psalms

I love the book of Psalms.

I started reading this book once again on September 1st, and I’ve been doing 3 chapters a day since then. I love to read my Bible in the mornings, because it starts my day off with fresh perspective.

Psalms is honest. When everyone around us makes us feel like we have to be “fine,” we read in the Bible that we don’t have to pretend to be. Feelings are real. Depression is real. Tragedy is real. Despair is real.

And the more I read, the more I realize something.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean that life will be easy, painless, or safe. What it does mean, is that God is with us through the good times and the bad. Hardship will come, but God will be with us through it.

Psalm 34:7-18

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

When I read the book of Psalms, I am reminded of a few things.

Feelings are real.

Psalm 43:5

“Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.”

 

Stress, depression, and despair are real. There is absolutely NO denying that. God gave us emotions, and we live in a broken, fallen world. It’s good to feel. At the same time, it’s painful. Emotions shift, life changes, things are unsteady. But there is one thing that does not change.

God’s truth does not change because He does not change.

 

Psalm 9:9

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

 

We can spend time in the Bible and read His truth. We can meditate on His word and learn that He never leaves us. We find out that He is the only one that can satisfy us, and He is the only one that can save us. We know that in spite of our sin, God forgives us and calls us holy. He has saved our souls, which is reason to rejoice.

We don’t need to be consumed by darkness in our lives.

 

Psalm 139:12

“Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

 

Psalm 30:5

“For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 23:4

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

 

God is greater than the darkness. God is more powerful than tragedy. God lavishes us with love and grace and mercy, and we needn’t worry.

Our lives are in His hands. Tough things will come upon us, but God is always worthy of our trust.

I encourage all of you to take some time this week and read some Psalms. There are so many truths in there that bring comfort to my soul, and so many that push me to keep on going.

*aj