Have you seen the preachy Christian lately? He/she likes—perhaps with genuine care—to tell you how you can make your life better with a Bible verse or two? This believer has bright ideas, and often little time to truly listen.
Are you a preachy Christian? Do you tend to regurgitate Scriptures, quotes, or cheap words to people around you? The Bible is perfectly relevant in any given situation. Yet, perhaps it is more about a daily transformation into Christ’s likeness than quick fixes and superficial answers.
Regrettably, I’m guilty. Are you guilty too?
I know it is easier to underline a few verses, and offer some half-baked solution to someone who’s dealing with a pain we cannot understand. Yet, the power is in being like Jesus. He cried with those who cried. Remember Lazarus’s sisters? Lazarus died, and his sisters were dealing with heavy grief. He could have just told them to believe, knowing He was about to bring Lazarus back to life. But no. He cried.
How do we react to other people’s sufferings? Do we try and fix it?
Lately, my mom was in the hospital after a major surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her stomach. It was some of the toughest times in my life. I called my good friend hoping to get some comfort in her listening ear. She lectured me about what I should do according to the Bible. “Trust in God,” she said; “pray,” she added. Great. Just what I needed; someone to remind me of what I believe, but couldn’t find the strength to apply to my life at the moment. I thanked her, because I knew she was sincere, and I hung up. I felt emptier than before I even talked to her.
I took my car and drove around for some time, listening to Yolanda Adams’ After a While. I prayed and poured my heart out to God, again. I then came back and called one more friend. I was exhausted, and weak. And she listened.
Sincerely listening to another person’s hardship means to open up and feel the raw pain that comes with connecting the information to our hearts. We don’t like to do that, it’s uncomfortable at best. Yet, it keeps us humble, because most of the time we really don’t have a solution. And maybe that’s okay. The Bible says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15, NLT)
We have a choice. We can either try to fix people, basically telling them they shouldn’t feel that way, or explore what God says. “A friend is always loyal, and a brother (or sister) is born to help in time of need.” (Proverbs 17:17, NLT) We can offer some comfort by genuinely listening, and by asking the person how we could help. We can also admit that we don’t know what to do, and simply be there for them, because we care about their pain. And we can pray. It may be surprising, but perhaps they won’t feel like praying. Let’s keep on pleading to God for them—with them knowing or not. It’s not about us anyway, so whether they get to thank us or not, to God be the glory when they do get better.
I know it’s hardly possible to live like that with everyone around us, because it gets heavy on us too. But we at least owe it to those with whom we have the strength to be real with.
You know when you think of it, our relationships—with God and others—are really all we’ve got.
Ever been on the receiving end of quick fixes when all you really needed was a friend? What response would you have preferred? Let us know in the comments below!